Sinn Fein picks young female solicitor to fight McElduff Westminster seat

�rfhlaith Begley (right) with Michelle O'Neill
�rfhlaith Begley (right) with Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Fein have announced the daughter of a long-serving councillor as their candidate for the by-election sparked by Barry McElduff’s resignation.

Mr McElduff resigned as MP for West Tyrone 10 days after posting a social media video on the anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre, causing widespread outrage and condemnation.

The former MP had posed with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head in the video.

He later apologised and claimed the video was not intended as a reference to the shooting of 11 Protestant workmen, only one of whom survived, near the village of Kingsmills in Co Armagh on January 5, 1976.

On January 15, he announced his resignation.

Sinn Fein’s candidate for the by-election caused by his resignation was confirmed yesterday as Órfhlaith Begley.

She is described by a party spokesperson as a 26-year-old solicitor and the daughter of Seán Begley, who served as a Sinn Fein councillor for 26 years.

She is said to have worked in “several elections” canvassing for Sinn Fein in West Tyrone.

Speaking following her selection at a convention held in Omagh, Ms Begley promised to be a “new voice”.

She said: “If elected MP for West Tyrone I pledge that I will be an MP for all, that I will work without fear or favour for all the people of this constituency.”

She spoke of the need for an ‘Acht Gaeilge’ (Irish language act), “equal marriage rights” and “the right to a coroner’s inquest”.

The new candidate also highlighted what she called “the twin threats of Tory austerity and Brexit” and promised to “work for Irish unity, not just talk about Irish unity”.

A date for the by-election has yet to be set.