Sinn Fein not fielding candidates in four Northern Ireland seats at election

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People go to the Polls here in July

By Claudia Savage and David Young (PA)

Sinn Fein has announced it will not run candidates in four constituencies in Northern Ireland in the General Election.

The party’s director of elections Conor Murphy said it would not be standing in East Belfast, North Down, South Belfast and Lagan Valley.

He said he was encouraging voters in those constituencies to back “progressive parties, who will reject Tory cuts and Tory pacts”.

Mr Murphy said: “We need every constituency fighting back against that and we have decided to give the best chance in those four constituencies to those progressive and inclusive candidates who can win.

“It was not an easy decision for Sinn Fein to make but we believe it is in the best interests of society here in the north.”

On Wednesday, outgoing Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief Pat Cullen revealed she was seeking to run as Sinn Fein’s candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

She was formally confirmed as the party’s candidate on Thursday evening.

Ms Cullen led nurses across the UK into unprecedented strike action last year.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone is one of the closest electoral races in the UK, with Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew holding the seat in 2019 by just 57 votes.

DUP leader Gavin Robinson said his party is endorsing the UUP’s candidate Diana Armstrong in the constituency in an effort to consolidate the unionist vote.

Sinn Fein vice-president and First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she was “delighted” that Ms Cullen had put her name forward to run for Sinn Fein in the area.

“Pat Cullen is a formidable leader,” she said.

“She is a strong and fearless advocate for social justice with a proven track record of delivery for over half a million nursing staff.

“She has worked on the coalface of our health service for almost 40 years as a nurse and has played a key role in the development of nursing across these islands.

“As general secretary of the RCN, she has been a leading voice in championing fair pay and conditions for our hard-working nurses and healthcare workers.

“Having known and worked closely with Pat Cullen for many years, I know that she will bring the same grit, determination and leadership qualities as MP for the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

“Pat will provide strong leadership and be a voice for positive change. She brings a fierce determination and a solid commitment to build a new and better future for all.”

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