N. Ireland Politics

West Tyrone by-election candidates list

The West Tyrone by-election was triggered by the resignation of the sitting MP, Barry McElduff.

Polling takes place on 3 May between 07:00 and 22:00 BST. Here are the candidates:

Órfhlaith Begley - Sinn Féin

Órfhlaith Begley is a new name on the ballot paper but she is no stranger to politics.

Her father, Seán, served 26 years as a Sinn Féin councillor on Omagh District Council and she has been heavily involved in party politics on the ground.

A native of Carrickmore, County Tyrone, the 26-year-old works as a solicitor in Portadown, County Armagh, along with her brother.

She is seeking to retain the seat vacated by her party colleague Barry McElduff who stepped down after posting a controversial video on Twitter.

He posed with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head, on what was the anniversary of the Kingsmills killings.

He later apologised, saying he did not make the connection between his actions and the massacre.

In the last Westminster poll, Sinn Féin strengthened their grip on the seat with a majority of more than 10,000 votes.

Thomas Buchanan - Democratic Unionist Party

Thomas Buchanan first entered politics 25 years ago when he became the youngest member of Omagh District Council.

In 2003, he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly and has carried the DUP banner in all subsequent Stormont and Westminster polls.

The former contractor who lives in Drumquin, County Tyrone, has been slowly building the DUP vote in West Tyrone and says 40% of his time is spent helping Catholic constituents.

He believes in creationism and has supported moves for it to be taught in schools.

He also once told school children attending a public event that homosexuality is an "abomination".

Mr Buchanan is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.

He recently talked about the devastation of losing his nine-year-old son, Nathan, to a brain tumour and says his strong faith helped the family to cope with their tragic loss.

Stephen Donnelly - Alliance

Stephen Donnelly is a familiar face for Alliance voters in West Tyrone having contested all elections since 2014.

He attended Drumragh Integrated College before studying politics at Queen's University in Belfast.

When he first stood for election four years ago he polled 174 votes.

In last year's Westminster poll, he secured 1,000 first preference votes.

He says his party is offering "an alternative to the current deadlock, opposing a hard Brexit and putting forward our belief in the need for Northern Ireland to stay within the single market and to avoid a hard border".

Daniel McCrossan - Social Democratic and Labour Party

Daniel McCrossan started his political career behind the scenes working for former SDLP MLA Joe Byrne.

He later replaced Mr Byrne at Stormont, being co-opted in 2016.

It was not a smooth transition as his selection caused a split in the party.

He faced down his detractors, out-polling two of them in the assembly election in May 2016, securing the seat for the SDLP and retaining it in 2017.

He is currently the SDLP's infrastructure spokesperson and also held the role of vice-chair of the assembly's Public Accounts Committee.

Disillusioned with the stalemate at Stormont, he recently suggested he may be forced to return to his career in law - if the impasse continues.

At 29, he is one of the youngest members of the SDLP's Stormont team.

Chris Smyth - Ulster Unionist Party

Chris Smyth is a councillor on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and says he has mixed emotions about standing in the election.

He was hoping the unionist parties could have agreed a cross-community candidate to try to snatch the seat from Sinn Féin.

He was overlooked by the previous party leadership to stand in the assembly election after his colleague Ross Hussey stood down.

The party opted instead for newcomer Alicia Clarke, who failed to retain the seat.

This time around, Chris Smyth has the full backing of the party leader, Robin Swann.

Mr Swann described him as an excellent candidate "who possesses all the attributes necessary to represent the people of West Tyrone at Westminster with the dignity and respect that has hitherto been sadly lacking".