WEST Tyrone will have a new MP on June 8 after Sinn Féin’s Pat Doherty announced his decision to stand down.
Mr Doherty, who has held the West Tyrone parliamentary seat for 16 years, confirmed his decision to the party on Wednesday ahead of a selection meeting in the Mellon Country Hotel where Barry McElduff was confirmed as the Donegal man’s successor.
Elected to the Assembly alongside Pat Doherty in 1998, Mr McElduff is considered the natural successor to the former Sinn Féin Vice-president as the party’s most senior figure in the constituency.
The considerable share of the vote Sinn Féin enjoy in West Tyrone means the Carrickmore man is virtually assured victory on June 8, opening up a new Assembly seat within the party in West Tyrone.
That seat is likely to be filled by Castlederg woman Grace McDermott, who formed part of Sinn Féin’s ticket for the 2016 Assembly election.
Speaking on Wednesday night, Pat Doherty (71) said while his decision not to enter the Westminster race signals the end of his career in electoral politics, he intends to remain active within the party.
“Electoral politics is only one part of politics,” he said. “I’m not leaving Sinn Féin and I’m not leaving my role as a full-time Sinn Féin activist.
“The party has already told me they’ll not allow me to go back home to build stone walls,” he joked.
To read the full interview, pick up today’s Donegal News.