Political parties canvass Roe Valley for snap election votes

Voters will go to the polls on March 2.
Voters will go to the polls on March 2.

Political parties were swiftly into their canvassing stride in Roe Valley this week after a snap Assembly election was called.

The March 2 poll follows the collapse of the power-sharing Executive over the Renewable Heat Initiative controversy.

The outgoing MLAs for East Londonderry are the DUP’s George Robinson, Maurice Bradley and Adrian McQuillan, Independent Unionist Claire Sugden, Sinn Fein’s Caoimhe Archibald and the SDLP’s Gerry Mullan.

At this stage it is unclear how many of the six will be seeking to be returned to Stormont, though outgoing Justice Minister Sugden and Ms Archibald have confirmed their candidacies.

Mr Bradley, who topped the poll in May 2016, urged voters to support whoever is selected on the DUP ticket.

Laying blame for the crisis with Sinn Fein over its “failure to work through the many issues at Stormont”, he warned via social media that “any election will be for negotiations as more of the same cannot continue - Arlene Foster is too strong a leader and the personal campaign against her is bordering on pure hatred”.

He added: “Whoever contests this election on March 2, will have my support, whether it is Adrian, George or I or any other candidates. I am seeking your support, help and patience to go to the polls again so soon after the May election.”

With the electorate returning one fewer representative this time - the number of MLAs in all constituencies is reducing to five - a close contest is anticipated locally.

Sinn Fein held its selection on Saturday with Ms Archibald joined by Cathal Ó hOisín.

Ms Archibald said :“We are facing in to an election due to the arrogance of the DUP and Arlene Foster and the time is right for the people to have their say.”

She alleged: “Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry MP) proudly boasted ‘bring it on’ in reference to an election only a few weeks ago. Well we have brought it on. This election is about equality for all, about rights for all and about an end to corruption and arrogance of the few.”

Fellow candidate Mr Ó hOisín said: “Sinn Féin in this constituency are on the up, as we have proved by increasing our vote at every assembly election. This shows the momentum is with Sinn Féin thanks to our strong team of councillors on Causeway Coast and Glens council and our record of delivering for the local area.”