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It’s all change for Sinn Féin

By Anthony Neeson

At a special election con-vention in the Felons last night (Wednesday) Sinn Féin big-hitters Alex Maskey and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir were expected to be nominated unopposed as new MLAs for West and South Belfast respectively.
The changes have been brought about by the resignation of former West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey. Two weeks ago we reported that Ms Ramsey was retiring from front-line politics due to ill-health.
Her departure has opened the door for Mr Maskey to return to West Belfast to replace Ms Ramsey, with Mr ó Muilleoir in turn replacing Mr Maskey as a new MLA for the South of the city.
Mr Maskey has been an MLA for South Belfast since 2003, having previously been an MLA for West Belfast. His move back ‘home’ will be a popular one with party members and supporters in the West of the city.
Mr ó Muilleoir won Sinn Féin’s first-ever seat in South Belfast’s affluent Balmoral ward in 2011 and increased his personal vote there this year during the new ‘super council’ election in May, topping the poll on the back of a highly successful year as Lord Mayor of the city. He is viewed by the party as a vote-getter in a constituency where Sinn Féin is growing and hopeful of future gains.
As we went to press on Wednesday, the election convention was about to get under way. Also expected to go through on the night were Sinn Féin’s five nominations to go forward as candidates in West Belfast for the next Assembly election. Mr Maskey, Jennifer McCann, Pat Sheehan, Rosie McCorley and Fra McCann will all be on the ticket for the party in 2016.
Also on the night, Mr ó Muilleoir and Niall ó Donnghaile were expected to be nominated unopposed as Sinn Féin’s Westminster candidates for South and East Belfast respectively.
Speaking ahead of the election convention, Mr ó Muilleoir – MD of the Belfast Media Group, owners of the Andersonstown News – said: “It’s always a privilege to serve the people and it’s my intention to double down on the work which is going on to build a stronger South Belfast. That means more jobs, enhanced diversity and increased investment to create a truly thriving community. I am confident we are on the cusp of an era of enormous progress for Belfast and I am resolved to be a champion for change in the time ahead.”

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