Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Finucane to take on Dodds for North Belfast seat

Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane
Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane

By Staff Reporter

The Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane is set to stand against DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in North Belfast in the next general election, Sinn Fein has said.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly confirmed he will nominate the councillor at the party's selection convention, set to take place on Sunday in Belfast Castle.

Mr Finucane, son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, was first elected to Belfast City Council at the local government elections in May.

Mr Kelly said: "With the chaos in Westminster continuing, the likelihood of an election is increasing daily.

"I am proud to be nominating the current Mayor of Belfast, John Finucane, to stand for Sinn Fein in that election.

"That will be our opportunity to reject the madness of the Tory/DUP Brexit and build support for Irish Unity. Sinn Fein is ready to fight that election and to seize the opportunity to oust Brexiteer DUP MPs.

"Given the catastrophe that Westminster is attempting to force upon our island it is vital that we continue to show Dublin, Europe and the world that we reject Brexit, borders and the DUP.

"I am confident that in John Finucane we can return a pro-Remain anti-Brexit MP in North Belfast."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill has told party activists in Londonderry that a Westminster election is an opportunity to press forward the momentum for Irish unity.

She was addressing local party members following the selection of sitting MP Elisha McCallion to contest the Foyle seat for Sinn Fein.

"In the last Westminster election, the nationalist people sent a powerful message by turning their back on Westminster and electing seven Sinn Fein MPs, including the historic victory of Elisha McCallion here in Foyle," Ms O'Neill said.

"We need to be ready to take whatever comes at us and defend those republican seats, and our anti-Brexit and pro-Irish unity mandate.

"We must argue the merits and popularise the strongest case for Irish unity, a unity poll, and the new conditions presented by Brexit.

"In this election we will give people a reason to vote, again rallying support for Elisha McCallion who has loudly championed the interests of Derry with an ambitious political agenda of effecting change.

"We always remain true to the community from which we come.

"This election will come in the midst of the most defining period in modern Irish republicanism and we must be the daring front runners who will achieve a unity referendum and make partition in our country history."

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party has selected John Blair MLA to contest the South Antrim seat.

"It is important we give everyone in Northern Ireland the chance to vote for the party which has the best chance of bringing together people of all shades from right across the community.

"We are the only Remain party who can win in South Antrim, with recent polls showing there is a strong possibility that is exactly what will happen," he said.

Mr Blair, who has been MLA for the area since replacing David Ford in June 2018, added: "The Alliance surge seen in the recent European and Council elections is continuing.

"It is simple - if the people of South Antrim do what they did in May and vote Alliance, they will have an MP to represent them and the Remain majority in Northern Ireland in Westminster."

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