Belfast Telegraph

Date set for election battle in West Tyrone

By Staff Reporter

The West Tyrone Parliamentary by-election will take place on Thursday May 3, it was announced last night.

Candidates will vie to replace former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff, who resigned from the position after a scandal erupted when he posted a video posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.

Police interviewed Mr McElduff about the incident earlier this month.

He did not take his seat at Westminster as part of Sinn Fein's abstentionist policy.

Solicitor Orfhlaith Begley (26) has already been selected to stand as the Sinn Fein candidate for the seat. She is the daughter of the former Sinn Fein chairman of Omagh District Council Sean Begley, who was a councillor for 26 years.

She will not take her Westminster seat if elected, in accordance with the republican party's policy.

Sinn Fein is defending a 10,342 majority from the last Westminster election in 2017.

There has as yet been no offical confirmation, but it is thought that West Tyrone SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan could announce his candidacy later today.

There had been speculation that unionists would back an agreed candidate, and in January UUP leader Robin Swann called for a candidate "who will be a voice for victims" to contest the seat against Sinn Fein. Sources in the constituency said last night that they believed only a candidate from the Catholic community who had been a victim of IRA terrorism stood any chance of making a serious impact on Sinn Fein's vote in the overwhelmingly nationalist constituency.

Stephen Donnelly was announced as the Alliance candidate at the party conference.

Belfast Telegraph

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