Sinn Féin has said it can outpoll the SDLP in Derry for the first time in the Assembly and local government elections due to be held in May.
Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney made the prediction as his party launched its team of candidate for the polls - both of which will be held on May 5th - in the Gasyard Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Mr McCartney has been chosen to defend his seat alongside his Assembly colleague, Martina Anderson, and former mayor of Derry, councillor Paul Fleming.
The party also unveiled 15 candidates for the local government election, including seven who have not previously stood as Sinn Féin candidates in the past.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 2000 republicans, Mr McCartney said; “There is no doubt we have a first class team who have the leadership required to galvanise the republican base in the city and maximise the number of people who vote for us.
“We believe that in this election we an outpoll the SDLP in the city. We all know the importance of this election.”
Former Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin also said he believes Derry can become a republican city. “Derry has come from being a nationalist town with a tiny republican cadre who kept the faith.
“I thought that the pattern of growth has slowed but now when I see the mixture of experience and leadership and talented young people, it is obvious that Derry is still in a position to deliver further growth.
“Derry is now a republican city and that was not always the case. Now there is an onus on us to demonstrate the strength of that growth. We are up against the SDLP, a party that is demoralised and divided.
“There is nothing that is beyond it. We could not have been more tested in the last 30 years and we could not be defeated. We can get extra seats in Derry,” he said.