N. Ireland Politics

Martin McGuinness to contest assembly elections in Foyle

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Media captionSinn Féin's move to stand Martin McGuinness in Foyle will test the SDLP, as BBC News NI's Gareth Gordon reports

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, is to contest the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly election in his home constituency of Foyle, the BBC has learned.

The Sinn Féin politician will not be standing in Mid Ulster, where he is currently an MLA.

The party believes the move will help it to win another seat in Foyle.

Mr McGuinness first moved to Mid Ulster in 1997 when he was elected as the MP for the area.

He won an assembly seat in the same constituency the following year.

Analysis: BBC News NI's political editor Mark Devenport

Sinn Féin has a track record of moving big players around.

It is no coincidence that Mr McGuinness is returning to Foyle in the first election in which the SDLP will be led by their new, young leader and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood.

There has been speculation that there could be a seat in Foyle for, if you like, left/non-Sinn Féin opposition, whether it is People Before Profit or independents.

Mr McGuinness was moved initially from Foyle down to Mid Ulster because he could not take out the SDLP's John Hume stronghold.

In the last assembly election, Sinn Féin returned two candidates in Foyle, Martina Anderson and Raymond McCartney, with two and half quotas.

Its overall share of the vote was 1% behind the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which claimed three seats.

The Democratic Unionist Party has one MLA in Foyle.

It is understood Sinn Féin feels the addition of Martin McGuinness could close that gap and secure the party a third seat in the constituency.

The decision to stand Mr McGuinness in Foyle is expected to be rubber-stamped by the party at a selection conference in Londonderry this weekend.