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Sinn Fein holds on to parliamentary seat

March 8, 2013 at 1:44 AM   |   Comments

COOKSTOWN, Northern Ireland, March 8 (UPI) -- A longtime republican activist won a by-election Thursday in Northern Ireland for the parliamentary seat formerly held by Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness.

Like McGuinness, Francie Molloy, who held on to the Mid-Ulster seat for Sinn Fein, will not take his seat in Westminster, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Molloy won almost 47 percent of the vote in a four-way race. Unionist parties united behind a single candidate, Nigel Lutton, who won a 34 percent share.

Lutton's father, Frederick, a reservist in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was killed in 1979 during the Troubles. Six years ago, a unionist politician under parliamentary privilege alleged that Molloy had been involved in the killing.

Molloy has denied the charge and said he would sue for defamation if anyone said it outside of Parliament.

The two men did not shake hands after the results were announced, although Lutton said they greeted each other.

McGuinness, the province's deputy first minister, resigned his Westminster seat this year to focus on the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly.

Molloy, who has represented the area in the assembly since 1998, promised to work hard for the district even if he does not participate in debates and voting in Westminster.

"Martin is going to be a hard act to follow, I understand that, but we will try our best to do that and we will continue to build the process and work with everyone," he said. "I want to represent all the people of Mid Ulster, not just those who voted for me, not just the Sinn Fein support."

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