Irish Republican News · February 18, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Battle on to fill seats vacated by Hume, Paisley

Belfast Mayor Martin Morgan is to seek the SDLP's nomination as the party's candidate in June's European election fror the Six Counties, it has been confirmed.

Individual members of the SDLP, rather than branches, have been asked to submit names for selection and nominations will close on Friday afternoon.

Following the decision by former party leader John Hume to step down from public life, those interested in the party's candidacy include Alasdair McDonnell, Sean Farren, Alban Maginness, Patricia Lewsley, and Joe Byrne. The SDLP will select its candidate in two weeks' time.

Sinn Féin's European candidate Bairbre de Brun has already been out for some considerable time on the campaign trail and her party is increasingly confident that it can win a seat.

The SDLP's seat is seen as highly vulnerable following Hume's departure, although a poor performance by either of the two unionist parties could theoretically see the return of two nationalists.

Meanwhile, there are four confirmed candidates for the DUP nomination for the June election. Jim Allister, a former leading member of the DUP, has joined a field which includes former Six-County social development minister Maurice Morrow, and Assembly members (and gospel singers) William McCrea and Paul Berry.

They are all vying for the seat vacated by veteran DUP leader Ian Paisley, whose large personal Euro vote may not turn out in June.

Meanwhile, sitting Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson will be defending his hold on one of the three seats in the Euro constituency and will seeking to reverse his party's recent decline.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News