OPINION: Mary Lou McDonald: ‘Exciting and historic opportunity for Derry Sinn Féin’

Writing for the Derry Journal, Sinn Féin Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald welcomes the party’s new Foyle MLAs ahead of upcoming and ‘crucial’ Assembly elections....

By Mary Lou McDonald
Saturday, 11th September 2021, 10:04 am

The selection of Pádraig Delargy and Ciara Ferguson as the new Sinn Féin assembly members for Foyle is clearly a huge step forward in the process of rebuilding and renewal which the party undertook in this constituency.

I obviously want to congratulate them on their selection, and I also send my very best wishes to the other candidates, Amy Hamilton and Tiarnán Heaney. To put yourself forward for public office isn’t easy. It is a huge undertaking and I thank all four candidates for their commitment and their dedication. I look forward to continuing to work with them all as part of the ever-growing Sinn Féin team which is active right across the island of Ireland.

The very fact that we had four such excellent candidates seeking the nomination is evidence in itself that the party has made huge progress locally. To see young, hard-working, committed activists emerging as leaders in this constituency certainly bodes well for the future. It is also typical of the growth of Sinn Féin across Ireland where our positive, progressive vision for the future of Ireland is winning more and more support every day.

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Clearly, we have been through a difficult time in Foyle and the review and restructuring process in the constituency has not been without pain. But sometimes pain is unavoidable in politics, and I believe we have shown that Sinn Féin is listening to the people of Derry – about what they want from the party and about what they want for their city and community. As a result, we now have new structures in place, new MLAs and renewed determination to move forward with positivity and energy to deliver for Derry. We do so thanks in no small measure to the hard work and dedication of people like Martina Anderson and Karen Mullan.

And while Martina and Karen have stepped down from the Assembly, I am delighted that both will continue to play a leading role in the development of the party nationally and at regional level in the north west.

On behalf of Sinn Féin, I thank them, and their families who have supported them as public representatives, for their hard work and absolute commitment to the people of Derry and the north west.

Our intention now is to continue to work collectively to rebuild the party and advance the cause of Irish unity in the city.

This is an exciting and historic opportunity for Republicans to come forward and help drive the process of reorganisation and change in Derry and across Ireland as Sinn Féin is on the cusp of leading government, north and south, and of achieving a referendum on Irish Unity. As Sinn Féin MLAs for Foyle, Pádraig and Ciara will have a central role to play in that.

The next Assembly elections will be crucial, not only in demonstrating the demand for change in the North but also in ensuring that commitments to Derry on issues like Magee, the detox centre, housing and health services are honoured. A strong Sinn Féin vote in Foyle helps ensure that is the case. It helps achieve Sinn Féin’s vision to create jobs and investment here. It helps build a thriving, vibrant, modern city which takes its rightful place in a United Ireland at the heart of an economically reinvigorated north west region.