Alliance leader hopeful her party will secure more than two seats at Westminster

Alliance Party candidates Sorcha Eastwood (right) standing in Lagan Valley, party leader Naomi Long (centre) standing in East Belfast and Kate Nicholl standing in South Belfast, speak to the media outside the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
-Credit: (Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire)


Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has said she is hopeful her party will make a number of gains in the General Election.

The party had one MP, Stephen Farry in North Down, in the last Parliament, and Ms Long previously won East Belfast in 2010 before losing the seat to the DUP ’s Gavin Robinson in 2015.

Ms Long said she is looking forward to Mr Farry being returned to the House of Commons, with herself and others.

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This election comes after a number of polls in which the centre-ground party saw significant gains to become the third largest in Northern Ireland.

Ms Long was speaking to the media alongside some of the party’s top General Election hopes – Lagan Valley candidate Sorcha Eastwood and South Belfast candidate Kate Nicholl – after submitting nomination papers at the Electoral Office in Belfast on Thursday.

Ms Long said they were very excited about the election, describing “real opportunities for growth” for Alliance.

“I hope to see not just Stephen Farry returned for North Down but myself and some of my colleagues returned with him to provide strong and positive leadership for Northern Ireland over the coming weeks and months,” she said.

She said she expects a “very close race” in East Belfast against the now DUP leader Gavin Robinson. She was about 1,800 votes behind Mr Robinson at the last general election in 2019.

“I’m in this to win this,” she said.

She said her party wants to “hold to account others who propped up” the outgoing government, after a DUP relationship with the Conservative Party which included a confidence and supply deal.

“There are many things that this outgoing government has done that we find have undermined the UK economically and socially, and in terms of our standing internationally,” she said.

“We want to see that reversed and see that changed, but we also want to hold to account those in Northern Ireland who supported them in some of their most extreme measures, hold them to account for the choices they made in propping up a government which has caused such harm to the people of Northern Ireland.

“We want to work constructively at Westminster with others to ensure that Northern Ireland gets its fair share of the opportunities and be able to actually deliver for the people that we represent.”

Ms Long said she has found, while canvassing, an “enthusiasm” for a General Election, because the Government “has reached the end of the road”.

“There are now no more good ideas, so we’re just getting mad ideas coming out of the Government at this stage, and they (voters) want that to end,” she said.

Ms Eastwood said Alliance has had a “really positive” campaign so far in Lagan Valley.

She is running for the Lagan Valley seat which was held by former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Donaldson quit as DUP leader in March after being arrested and charged with historical sexual offences, charges he denies.

The DUP is running current MLA Jonathan Buckley for the seat.

Ms Eastwood said the Alliance vote has increased significantly in Lagan Valley over the last number of elections to become the second largest party in the constituency.

“We have been preparing for this (election) for years, others may have been caught on the hop, we certainly weren’t.

“People are really enthused, they’re eager for change. They want to go out and endorse something positive and progressive and that’s exactly what we’re offering in Lagan Valley.

“We’re out there fighting to win.”

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