Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly on campaign trail for Sinn Fein

Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald confirmed the Shankill bomber Sean Kelly will be canvassing for the party in North Belfast ahead of December's General Election.

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Ms McDonald was speaking outside Sinn Fein's Falls Road offices on Monday afternoon as the party announced it would not be running candidates in South Belfast, East Belfast and North Down in an effort to see pro-remain candidates top the polls.

The party said it wanted to see the SDLP's Claire Hanna elected in South Belfast, Alliance leader Naomi Long in East Belfast and Lady Sylvia Hermon in North Down. That could put pressure on the DUP seats held by Emma Little Pengelly and Gavin Robinson in Belfast.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's John Finucane will challenge the DUP's Nigel Dodds in North Belfast as the only nationalist candidate after the SDLP stated it will not contest the constituency.

It has been reported convicted bomber Sean Kelly had been seen erecting election posters and distributing leaflets for Sinn Fein in the North Belfast constituency.

Nine people – including two children – were murdered in the 1993 bombing and a further 57 were injured by the blast at Frizzell's fish shop.

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly

Posters have been erected in the Shankill area highlighting the issue and urging people to use their vote.

When asked by the Belfast Telegraph if Kelly had been canvassing for the party, Ms McDonald said: “Activists across the party and hundreds of them will be into North Belfast canvassing to elect John Finucane, yes.”

The former UUP councillor and mayor of Newtownabbey John Scott said he had witnessed Kelly on the campaign trial for Sinn Fein.

"That is not showing respect and equality to the unionist community," he told the BBC's Stephen Nolan programme, "especially to the people on the Shankill Road."

Mr Scott - who has retired from politics after a brief period as a DUP councillor after quitting the UUP - described himself as one of the "instigators" behind a letter from a group of unionists urging UUP leader designate Steve Aiken to withdraw his party from the North Belfast contest to allow Nigel Dodds to retain his seat.

He said Steve Aiken's decision to seek the views of those in North Belfast and to stand aside from the contest was an example of good leadership after he previously stated the UUP would run in all Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie dismissed suggestions threats from loyalist paramilitary organisations were behind his party's decision and no one was willing to put their name forward.

He said if no one was willing to run, he would have put his name forward.

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