Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Time as MP for McCallion not without controversy

Elisha McCallion
Elisha McCallion
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

On June 9, 2017 at the Foyle Arena count centre, Elisha McCallion snatched the MP's seat from the SDLP's hands, beating long-standing MP Mark Durkan by just 169 votes. That night her party cheered their new MP up the driveway to home, waving tricolours and singing songs.

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Martin McGuinness had passed away just three months beforehand and the victory was seen as a balm of sorts for those heartbroken by the passing of their 'chieftain'.

Mrs McCallion had won Mr McGuinness' MLA seat earlier that year after he had announced he wouldn't stand again due to ill health. With strong community activism roots, she had been a city councillor for 12 years and became the first mayor of the newly created Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Mrs McCallion was one of seven Sinn Fein MPs who were elected to Westminster as abstentionist politicians, therefore she never took her seat on the green benches and didn't vote on the crucial Brexit votes that passed through parliament since her election to the post.

Her time as MP was not without its controversy.

In the days following her shock victory, reports surfaced of alleged voting fraud which was investigated, but no prosecutions came from the claims.

In her first weeks in the job, she commented that her hotel room in London was "smaller than her bathroom at home", causing a wave of criticism.

Just last month she was called on to apologise after claims she insulted residents in deprived areas of the constituency, by allegedly telling them via a live video while canvassing that they could open their doors as she "was not a debt collector".

Yesterday she congratulated Derry's new MP, Colum Eastwood, and vowed to continue working for her city.

"Congratulations Colum on your impressive victory," she wrote on her Facebook page. "I look forward to working with you in the future. It has been a huge honour and privilege to represent the people of Derry. I will continue to fight for Derry tomorrow and every day. Republicans don't retire."

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