Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson says she will not contest next election

Foyle constituency colleague Karen Mullan will also step aside after poor results in Derry

Martina Anderson described the party review’s recommendation as a “body blow” . Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Martina Anderson described the party review’s recommendation as a “body blow” . Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Senior Sinn Féin politician Martina Anderson has confirmed she will not stand in the next Assembly elections.

Ms Anderson and her party colleague, Karen Mullan, announced on social media on Tuesday evening they would not run for Assembly election again.

The pair, who hold Sinn Féin’s two Assembly seats in the Foyle constituency, were asked to step aside following a review by the party into recent poor election results in Derry.

In a video message posted online, Ms Anderson described the review’s recommendation as a “body blow” and acknowledged it had been a “difficult time” for her and Ms Mullan.

She said there was “privilege in being a public representative standing up for people” and she would miss it.

Ms Anderson emphasised that she had been contacted by “comrades, friends and supporters from across Derry and beyond offering their solidarity and support” and said the “majority” had “urged me to stay on.”

A former member of the Provisional IRA, she was jailed in 1986 after she was convicted of conspiring to cause explosions in Britain.

She was released in 1998 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement having served 14 years of a life sentence, and went on to become a senior figure in Sinn Féin, holding the positions of MEP and MLA as well as junior minister in the Stormont Executive.

In her statement, Ms Anderson pledged her support for her successor, saying that the “national leadership correctly wants to re-energise Sinn Fein in Derry and reconnect it to our base” and throughout her life as a republican she had “always put our struggle first.”

However, “in wanting what the leadership believe to be best for it,” she said, she had decided not to seek the nomination to contest the next election, and said that as a party member she would “support and work” for the next candidate.

“It’s time to focus on the task before us and to move forward with our collective cohesion to continue rebuilding the lost confidence in Sinn Féin in Derry,” she said.

In a post on social media, Ms Mullan - who was co-opted as an MLA in 2017 - also confirmed she would not be seeking a nomination to stand in the next Assembly election.

She said it had been a “great privilege to represent and work for the people of Derry.

“I will continue to be a Sinn Féin activist and I look forward to a new chapter in my life,” she said.

The Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, thanked both Ms Anderson and Ms Mullan for their “tireless dedication” to the party and to the people of Derry.

“I acknowledge that the process of reorganisation and change is challenging but it is my belief that our best days lie ahead in Derry and nationally as a new generation of republicans come forward,” she said.