Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Watch: Former Northern Ireland footballer Paul McVeigh backs John Finucane for North Belfast

Paul McVeigh in action for Northern Ireland.
Paul McVeigh in action for Northern Ireland.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Former Northern Ireland and Norwich City footballer Paul McVeigh has backed John Finucane to be the next MP for North Belfast.

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Mr McVeigh, now a pundit and global keynote speaker, represented Northern Ireland 20 times between 1999 and 2004.

The west Belfast man has given Mr Finucane his backing to topple DUP candidate Nigel Dodds in next Thursday's election.

Mr McVeigh (41) is the latest sports figure to endorse Mr Finucane, who has also received support from former Antrim GAA star Paddy Cunningham, boxer Michael Conlan and Game of Thrones and Harry Potter actor Ciaran Hinds.

His party colleague Elisha McCallion has been endorsed by Republic of Ireland and Stoke City winger James McClean.

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur youngster Mr McVeigh revealed his support in a video posted to the Sinn Fein candidate's Twitter account.

"I'm here to show my support for John Finucane because I really believe that this election on December 12 is probably one of the most important elections of our generation," he said.

"I believe that John Finucane is the man that you need to vote for, come out of your house, please show your support for John Finucane because he is the one who is going to do very good things for this part of the world."

Mr McVeigh won promotion to the Premier League with Norwich in 2004 and became a fan favourite in two spells with the club.

He effectively retired from Northern Ireland duty at the relatively young age of 27 to concentrate on reviving his club career.

In 2011 he called on the IFA to change the Northern Ireland team's anthem from 'God Save The Queen' to encourage more Catholics to represent the country.

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Paddy Cunningham

Mr Cunningham, who is a teammate of Mr Finucane's at Lamh Dhearg, urged people to come out and vote for Mr Finucane.

"This is a vitally important election to shape the current generation and future generations. I urge you all to encourage your family members, your work colleagues and your teamamates to vote on December 12 and vote John Finucane," he said.

Mr Finucane said that Mr Cunningham was "one of the best forwards Antrim has ever had" and it meant a lot to him to get his endorsement.

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John Finucane and Nigel Dodds are set to battle it out in North Belfast.

The current Lord Mayor of Belfast is set for a close run battle with long-serving DUP incumbent Nigel Dodds.

In the 2017 general election Mr Finucane lost out on the seat by just 2,081 votes.

Throughout this campaign the Sinn Fein councillor has been targeted with banners from loyalists attacking him and his family.

His chances could be boosted by the decision of the SDLP and Green Party to step aside in the constituency and support Mr Finucane as a remain candidate.

The UUP have stepped aside for Mr Dodds, despite a pledge from new party leader Steve Aiken that they would contest every constituency.

The only other candidate running in North Belfast is the Alliance Party's Nuala McAllister.

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