A former Sinn Fein MLA has spoken of his disappointment at losing his seat in the recent Assembly election.
While Sinn Fein increased its share of the vote in East Derry, the result was a disappointment for sitting assembly member, Cathal Ó hOisín who lost out to his party colleague, Caoimhe Archibald.
Sinn Féin had hoped to take a seat from the SDLP after John Dallat’s retirement. The party maintain one seat in East Derry, but the plan to take the second seat did not materialise.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, the Dungiven man said: “I don’t think it was a mistake to run the two of us. There were only a handful of votes in it, and I know Caoimhe will be a competent and articulate spokesperson for the party in East Derry.”
Mr Ó hOisín said during a review of Sinn Fein’s performance in the election one of the issues to be looked at is vote management, which he believes was a factor in his defeat.
Another issue is how Sinn Fein can get the neccessary transfers to get over the line.
“Elections are not an exact science, but vote management plays a part,” said Mr. Ó hOisín.
The former Assemblyman has been in politics for 12 years, and says he has been an activist all his life “and nothing will change there as I know no other”.
Mr. Ó hOisín said he isn’t “wallowing in self pity” and is optimistic about his future. He said he will sit down with his family, and the party about his options.
“I had a pretty heavy workload at Stormont and a good record of delivery with the new DARD HQ, the A6 Dungiven bypass and the Gaelscoil, but I won’t miss the daily commute of three to four hours. I won’t miss that out of my life.”
When asked if he’ll consider a return to active political life at local Council or Assembly level, he said: “The elections are a bit away, but I intend to stay politically active within party structures. I don’t think you’ve heard the last of me, but it’s too soon to speculate.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey, chair of East Derry Sinn Fein, described the loss of his colleague in Stormont as “a setback for the party”.
“We were going with the strategy of taking two seats for the party and Cathal lost out,” said Colr. McGlinchey. “He has been in politics for more than 10 years, and the party will now sit down with Cathal and make sure he has all the support he needs.”
Mr. McGlinchey said in a constituency where there were so many splits in unionism, Sinn Fein was going to have to rely on getting the necessary transfers to get over the line to take the second seat.
“Sinn Fein’s vote went up and Cathal narrowly missed out on taking that second seat, but his loss is a setback for the party and it’s a very public loss. It’s an election for all of us to learn from.”
Mr. Ó hOisín thanked everyone who has voted for him through the years, to everyone he has met working for voluntary and statutory organisations. He also thanked his election workers and his family.
“I’m not wallowing in self pity. I’m optimistic about the future,” he said, adding: “I haven’t gone away you know.”