JOHN Finucane is determined to top the poll again as he seeks to retake the North Belfast seat in the upcoming Westminster general election.

The Sinn Féin man was elected in December 2019 with 23,078 votes – 1,943 votes ahead of the DUP's Nigel Dodds who held the seat for 18 years. It was the first time in the history of the constituency that a nationalist was elected MP for North Belfast.

In 2019, Alliance were the only other party on the ballot paper but come July 4, the SDLP, Green Party, TUV and People Before Profit are also running candidates.

John says he isn't taking any vote for granted but is confident he is the right person to represent North Belfast as MP.

"It is a more crowded field on the ballot paper this time around. I do not take anybody’s vote for granted. The support for me in 2019 was overwhelming," he explained.

"I have been very proud to represent everyone in North Belfast over the last four-and-a-half years. I want to continue to do that. People will have that choice again whether to vote for me or not.

"The main issues on the doors for people is definitely the cost of living and housing. Our society here has been chronically underfunded for many years which the British government have finally accepted. I will continue to fight for funding and housing for North Belfast."

Reflecting on his last four-and-a-half years as MP, John is proud of leading the community fightback during the Covid pandemic.

"I was elected in December 2019 and I was getting used to the role when the pandemic hit in March 2020," he said.

"The first real challenge in North Belfast was the community response and fightback. I remember working with the community and voluntary sector in identifying who was most in need of help and support and ensuring no one was left behind. My office was at the forefront of that fightback. It seems like a long time ago now.

"I am consistently battling for North Belfast and its people. This week, we had First Minister Michelle O’Neill out to visit Ardoyne Youth Club who desperately need a new building.

First Minister Michelle O'Neill with John Finucane this week

First Minister Michelle O'Neill with John Finucane this week

"We have welcomed the opening of the new Ulster University and the expansion of Belfast Harbour area."

When asked about the local and European election results in the South, John said they were "disappointing" for the party.

"We are an all-island party and we are disappointed. There were seats we had targeted which we weren’t successful in and other seats we were successful in.

"The counting is still going on and we will undertake a review after that and assess were improvements can be made."

With GAA President Jarlath Burns saying that Casement Park faces the prospect of not being ready in time to host matches in Euro 2028, John – a former Antrim goalkeeper and Lámh Dhearg stalwart – says it will be an "incredible shame" should Belfast miss out as a host.

"If we miss out on the Euros, it will be an incredible shame not only for Belfast but the whole of the North. It is one of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world," he added.

"There has been very cynical messing from the British government. We had the British Prime Minister here a number of weeks ago and a possible announcement of funding and nothing has materialised.

"Missing out on the Euros will be a massive disappointment for everyone. As a North Belfast, Antrim and Ulster Gael, Casement will be built.

"I will probably have to accept I will never play at it but I certainly look forward to watching my own kids play on it."