All eyes on Omagh as McElduff returns to frontline politics

On Thursday night former MP for West Tyrone Barry McElduff re-entered the political arena after he was selected by party members in County Tyrone to run for Sinn Féin in next year’s local government elections.

What is notable about his selection to stand in Omagh Town is that this is also the intended launchpad of Fianna Fáil in the north (well certainly for a section of the party) as talks with the SDLP continue.

At the last council election in 2014 Sinn Féin won 2 seats as did the SDLP and the UUP and DUP 1 a piece. However since then Sorcha McAnespy resigned from Sinn Féin and both Joanne Donnelly and Dr Josephine Deehan left the SDLP leaving the Omagh DEA make-up as 3 Independents, 1 Sinn Féin 1 UUP and 1 DUP.

Sinn Féin will be keen to not only make up that loss but take 3 seats if they can maintain the high vote they received in the 2017 election. Sorcha McAnespy will be keen to secure a Fianna Fáil banner to run under sooner rather than later and defend her council seat. A merger with the SDLP should help her in this regard but if that marriage is called off then this could prove to be quite a crowded field.

With McElduff on the ticket Sinn Féin will hope that his high profile and constituency record will bring 3 seats home on the day.

Definitely one of the contests to watch come May 2019.