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The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP has been in Westminster since 2001. Alamy
Sinn Féin

SF MEP candidate and incumbent MP Michelle Gildernew will not contest British general election

Labour Party candidate Fergal Landy said Sinn Féin and Gildernew should make their intentions clear.

SINN FÉIN’S EUROPEAN elections candidate Michelle Gildernew, who is a current incumbent British MP for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, has announced she will not be contesting the British general election in July.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a snap general election to be held in the UK on 4 July.

Gildernew, who has been a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons since being re-elected in 2017, made her announcement after Labour European elections candidate Fergal Landy asked her to make her intentions clear.

Landy, who is contesting the Midlands North West constituency, said Sinn Féin and his competitor “need to be straight” with the 15-county electorate.

“They can’t duck, dive and deflect,” Landy said. “The clock is ticking and those who SF (Sinn Féin) are asking to vote for the Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP have a right to know what her plans are, and they have right to be told today.”

Speaking today, Gildernew confirmed that she will not be contesting the British general election:

“I want to represent the people of Midlands-North-West in the European Parliament; and hope that the voters will put their faith in me when they go to the ballot box on 7 June. That is my sole focus.

“I will not be running in the forthcoming Westminster election.”

If elected, the MP – who practices abstentionism in London as per Sinn Féin’s policy – will have to vacate her seat in Westminster as per the rules of the European Parliament.

She added that it had been a “privilege and an honour” to represent the voters in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Though retaining her position in Westminster in 2019, Gildernew just about won the seat – pulling in just 57 more votes than UUP MLA Tom Elliott. Sinn Féin have yet to announce who will contest the constituency in Gildernew’s place.

A spokesperson for the European Parliament confirmed that MEPs are not permitted to hold a seat in another parliament upon taking their seat in Europe.

MEPs are allowed to later leave their seat, where then they will be replaced by a number of other candidates on a list provided to the respective returning officer from their relevant party before polling day.

Currently, Gildernew tops Sinn Féin’s replacement list for the Midlands North West constituency and is followed by incumbent Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus.

If both candidates are elected, Donegal councillor Jack Murray will be the first-choice replacement on the party’s list.

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