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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 16 November, 2018
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26-year-old newcomer wins Tyrone by-election for Sinn Féin

Begley took the seat with an almost 8,000 vote majority.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill (left) and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald raise the arms of Orfhlaith Begley as the newly elected Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone.
Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill (left) and Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald raise the arms of Orfhlaith Begley as the newly elected Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

SINN FÉIN NEWCOMER Orfhlaith Begley has made history by becoming the first woman elected as West Tyrone MP.

Begley last night hung on to the seat vacated by party colleague Barry McElduff, who resigned the seat over a social media post.

Begley took the seat with an almost 8,000 vote majority, though Sinn Féin’s percentage of the vote did drop from 50% last year to 47% this year.

Speaking after her victory, she said:

“This is an historic result for Sinn Féin. The people of West Tyrone have elected their first female MP but, more than that, they have given a huge endorsement to our vision for a new type of politics and an Ireland that treats every single citizen with equality and respect.

“The electorate seized the opportunity to vote for equality and fairness and to reject borders and division and I want to thank every single person who voted for me and Sinn Féin.

“I pledge to be an MP for all citizens and to champion the issues that will improve the lives of the people in West Tyrone – attracting jobs, the completion of the A5, the rollout of broadband and defending our communities against the impact of austerity cuts and Brexit.”

DUP MLA Tom Buchanan, who finished second in the voting, said that while he respects the electorate’s decision, the area would suffer due to Sinn Féin’s abstentionist policy.

“I am extremely disappointed however that the constituency will continue to be unrepresented in Parliament. Whilst West Tyrone has an MP it does not have one who is prepared to do the full job expected of them.”

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