Veteran civil rights activist Eamonn McCann has confirmed he will stand in the forthcoming Assembly elections as the People Before Profit candidate in Foyle.
Mr McCann is the latest candidate to throw his hat in the ring in what is shaping up to be the most high profile of the counts across the north.
Derry City is a jobs desert and the few jobs that are available do not pay a living wage.Eamonn McCann
His candidature comes just weeks after Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced he is vacating his mid-Ulster seat to run in Foyle for Sinn Fein.
Both men will be up against a number of other big hitter in the six-seat constituency, SDLP leader and sitting Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood, Environment Minister and SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan and Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee, Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin and her running mate Raymond McCartney expected to stand again.
Among the others expected to stand in the expected May election are Independent candidate Dr Ann McCloskey, SDLP Foyle MLA Gerard Diver, DUP MLA Gary Middleton.
Confirming he is to stand, Mr McCann said: “I am proud to be standing for People Before Profit, an all-island party that is fighting austerity on both sides of the border.
“People Before Profit is building a new politics, the kind that is emerging all over Europe from people on the ground.
“It isn’t only in the North that growing numbers are fed up with the manoeuvres and antics of the old guard. Millions of mainly young people coming onto the streets have opened up new hope. Northern Ireland needs this hope more than any part of these islands.
“At this election we badly need to see the election of people with different politics. People Before Profit offers this alternative. We base ourselves on the interests of the broad mass of people of all communities. We don’t set out to represent one community vis-à-vis the other.
“Working class people are faced with more important problems than the issues which fascinate the established parties and hold the rest of us back. We have a horrendous housing problem. There are as many people in the Derry area in need of housing as there were back in the 1960s, when homelessness helped spark the civil rights movement.
“Derry City is a jobs desert and the few jobs that are available do not pay a living wage. Promised jobs tend not to materialise. But real jobs are being lost week in and week out through cuts in public provision.”
Mr McCann added: “An expanded university is vital for the future economic and social well-being of our area. Yet jobs at Magee are being cut, even as the misconceived Belfast expansion drains resources away. The establishment parties have put up very little fight on this issue and few have any faith in the latest promises in that regard.
“I will be raising these and other issues that are close to my heart – like the rail line, defence of the public sector and the ruination of our local environment through large-scale illegal dumping – at every opportunity in the Assembly.
“I am looking forward to joining Gerry Carroll (West Belfast) and Fiona Ferguson (North Belfast) in the Assembly. We came very close to taking a seat in Foyle at the last Assembly election. This time, we are confident of taking a seat.”