Alliance’s Sorcha Eastwood claims she is ‘confident of winning’ possible Westminster by-election in autumn

Alliance’s Sorcha Eastwood is confident that her party could make history by winning a Westminster by-election in stunning fashion if there is one called this autumn.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:23 pm
Alliance’s Sorcha Eastwood is confident that her party could make history by winning a Westminster by-election in stunning fashion if there is one called this autumn

The Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor said that the people of Lagan Valley were “fed up” with “embarrassing politics” in the area and “have been for some time.”

Speculation of a by-election for Lagan Valley comes after the current MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said previously that he would leave the role if he became leader of the DUP

The DUP confirmed on June 22 that Mr Donaldson would take over as leader of the party after Edwin Poots resigned following internal disputes.

It is understood that the MP for Lagan Valley will trigger a by-election in the area in order to become the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Ms Eastwood, who finished runner-up in the last parliamentary election for Lagan Valley, said the landscape of politics there was shifting.

In December 2019, the Alliance elected representative for Castlereagh south cut Mr Donaldson’s majority by 12,730 votes from 19,229 to 6,499.

Ms Eastwood said this was because voters had enough of the “psychodramas” from within the DUP and because they “wanted better”.

She added: “We work hard all year in Lagan Valley and team Alliance be on the ground everyday listening to people and hearing their concerns so we are ready for whatever may come later this year.

“A by-election looks probable at this stage and we will be ready for the challenge ahead. In the last election I don’t think people realised how close it was going to be and this time round it’s going to be a two-horse race again. I think we have a very strong chance of making history in the [Lagan Valley] constituency.”

The parliamentary seat, which was created in 1983, has only ever had two elected-representatives in the area in former UUP leader James Molyneux and Jeffrey Donaldson.

However, Sorcha Eastwood believes that a potential by-election could pave the way for the first Alliance and female MP for the area.

“I think the community has made their views very clear. I have lived in Lisburn my whole life and I know that people want change because they constantly tell me that’s what they want.

“They no longer want the orange and green arguments but a real alternative option that can deliver for them on a consistent basis.

“The DUP have brought utter chaos and instability to people’s lives and the choice is clear for everybody this time around. They deserve better and for them to choose between the DUP or Alliance.

“Voters want us to focus on the stuff that matters to them and that’s health, education and jobs and Alliance is best placed to fly that flag for them in Westminster.

“We are talking about a constituency that has had a unionist-party since the 1980s and now we could have an Alliance MP elected. I think that is significantly important, not just for Lagan Valley but for the whole country.”

The constituency has been under the spotlight in recent weeks but Ms Eastwood says that the current representation in the DUP ‘wasn’t a fair reflection of the good people in the Lagan Valley’.

“I think people right across the country are fed-up with the performance, entitlement and selfishness of the DUP in terms of bringing the entire business of government to a halt because of an internal party psychodrama.

“People in Lagan Valley are beyond tired with the DUP and these three key players, the unholy trinity of [Edwin] Poots, [Paul] Givan and [Jeffrey] Donaldson, have run their course with many. I have lived here my whole life, and people are so frustrated.

“This week, I have had current and former DUP voters coming to me and saying that I will have their support if a by-election is called. They are sick of being embarrassed by these people and I plan to do everything I can to stop that.”