Michelle Gildernew loses out at Sinn Féin selection convention

Former minister must wait to see if she will be added to Fermanagh-South Tyrone ticket

Sinn Féin candidate for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew: Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Former Stormont minister and MP Michelle Gildernew must wait for a decision by Sinn Féin's ruling ardchomhairle to learn whether she will be a candidate in this coming May's Northern Assembly elections.

Ms Gildernew failed to be chosen to contest the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency, following a selection convention on Sunday night in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

This was a re-run of a selection convention held six weeks ago where Ms Gildernew, Assembly member Seán Lynch and John Feely, a Fermanagh councillor, were selected to contest Fermanagh-South Tyrone. Another sitting MLA Phil Flanagan lost out at that convention. The selection, however, was found to be procedurally invalid.

At the second selection convention on Sunday night delegates chose Mr Lynch and Mr Feely and also put Mr Flanagan back on the ticket, with Ms Gildernew losing out.


While these three candidates have been selected, it is for the Sinn Fein ardchomhairle to ratify the selection. There is the possibility that Ms Gildernew could be added to the list of Sinn Féin candidates by the ardchomhairle.

Ms Gildernew, who was the abstentionist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone from 2001 to last year, when she lost the seat to Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott, congratulated the three successful candidates.

Her failure to be selected prompted some speculation yesterday (Mon) that she might run in Mid-Ulster now that Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has decided to move from Mid-Ulster where he is an MLA to stand for the Assembly in his native Foyle constituency.

Ms Gildernew, however, in a tweet said that “Mid-Ulster has excellent candidates to replace” Mr McGuinness and that her “heart’s in” Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times