Irish language enthusiast Catherine Kelly co-opted as new MLA for Strabane area

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Irish language enthusiast and former nursery assistant Catherine Kelly has been co-opted by Sinn Féin to serve the Strabane area at Stormont.

She replaces Barry McElduff as MLA for West Tyrone following the latter’s election in the Westminster election last Thursday.

Speaking after a selection convention on Monday, she said: “I am proud to have been chosen for co-option to the Assembly to replace Barry McElduff, who has just been elected as an MP.

“I look forward to providing a new voice for the constituency alongside Declan McAleer and Michaela Boyle and the other Sinn Féin representatives to ensure the people of West Tyrone continue to get first-class representation.

“There is no doubt that momentum has been building behind Sinn Féin’s platform of equality, rights and Irish unity in recent years and, if my selection is approved by the Ard Chomhairle I will do all in my power to advance that program.”

The 30-year-old is originally from Loughmacrory but has lived in Omagh town for the past eight years.

She studied English and History in John Moore’s University, Liverpool and Early Childhood Studies in South West College, Omagh.

She has been a member of Sinn Féin since 2009, stood as a candidate in Omagh Town in the 2014 local elections, has worked as Political Advisor to Barry McElduff and is currently secretary of Omagh Sinn Féin Comhairle Ceantair.

Ms. Kelly has a passion for the Irish language and previously worked as a nursery assistant in the local Irish language nursery, Naíscoil na gCrann.

She also has a strong community ethos and as well as assisting with her local community association she has helped organise various charity events and workshops on suicide prevention.