Sinn Fein MLA Elisha McCallion to stand for Westminster

Recently elected Sinn Fein MLA Elisha McCallion is expected to stand as the Foyle Westminster candidate - against SDLP MP Mark Durkan.

Tuesday, 25th April 2017, 11:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:08 pm
Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion

Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion is expected to go for back-to-back election victories.

Sources close to the party have revealed that Mrs McCallion is the only candidate to have been nominated so far.

It is understood that party members will hold a selection meeting in the city this Thursday, during which Mrs McCallion is expected to be formally endorsed as the Foyle candidate for Westminster.

The popular Galliagh native topped the poll in the Foyle Assembly Election last month. She raced first past the post with 9,205 first preference votes, almost 2,000 more than the quota required to be deemed elected.

Prior to this, Mrs McCallion had been a Councillor for 12 years and made history in March, 2015, when she became the first Mayor of the new Derry City & Strabane District Council.

And she will be hoping to make history again on June 8 by unseating the SDLP in Foyle.

Mrs McCallion is expected to go head-to-head with Mark Durkan, who has confirmed he is interested in running again for Foyle. If selected by his party, he will be fighting to retain the parliamentary seat he has held for over a decade.

Mr Durkan is his party’s former chairman, leader and a former Deputy First Minister and has been the MP for Foyle since 2005.

In 2015, he topped the poll by a clear-cut margin with 17,725 votes- almost 50 per cent of the total votes cast, with Sinn Fein’s Gearoid O hEara coming in behind with 11,679.

Mrs McCallion will be hoping for a better result in the forthcoming election, given Sinn Fein’s growth and strong showing in recent times. During the March 2 election, which was triggered following the resignation of the late Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein achieved 28 seats across the north, just one behind the DUP.

At that election, Sinn Fein for the first time, outpolled the SDLP in Foyle, although both parties retained their two seats in the constituency. Following the second snap election announcement for local voters so far this year, party members for all candidates standing in Foyle are expected to regroup for a new bout of canvassing within days once the candidates are selected.