26-year-old solicitor to stand for Sinn Féin in West Tyrone

By-election caused by resignation of Barry McElduff over Kingsmill video tweet

Barry McElduff stood down as the MP for West Tyrone last month. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Féin has chosen a 26-year-old Co Tyrone solicitor to contest the West Tyrone House of Commons by-election caused by the resignation of Barry McElduff.

Órfhlaith Begley from Carrickmore was chosen at a selection convention in Omagh on Sunday.

No date has yet been selected for the election.

Mr McElduff stood down as the MP for West Tyrone following a controversy caused by his posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head last month – on the date of the 42nd anniversary of the 1976 IRA Kingsmill Massacre in which 10 Protestant workmen were killed.


In recent elections in West Tyrone Sinn Féin won about 50 per cent of the vote. Even allowing for the controversy Ms Begley would be overwhelming favourite to retain the seat for Sinn Féin.

Ms Begley said on Sunday she hoped to be a “new voice” for the constituency.

“If elected MP for West Tyrone I pledge that I will be an MP for all, that I will work without fear or favour for all the people of this constituency,” she said.

“If you want an Acht Gaeilge, equal marriage rights, the right to a coroner’s inquest then I am calling on you to stand with Sinn Féin,” she added.

“If you want an MP who will stand up in the interests of all our people against the twin threats of Tory austerity and Brexit then stand with Sinn Féin. If you want an MP who is prepared to work for Irish unity, not just talk about Irish unity then stand with Sinn Féin.”

Ms Begley graduated with a degree in law with politics from Queen’s University, Belfast. She currently works in a general solicitor practice in both civil and criminal law.

Her father Seán was a Sinn Féin councillor for 26 years and previously the director of elections for West Tyrone.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times