Claire Hanna has been selected to run for the SDLP in South Belfast for the widely anticipated forthcoming election.

As reported by the Belfast Telegraph, former party leader and the previous MP for the constituency Dr Alasdair McDonnell withdrew from the race ahead of Wednesday night's selection meeting.

The party said Ms Hanna was unanimously endorsed at a meeting at the Ivanhoe Hotel in Carryduff.

Ms Hanna was elected as an SDLP MLA in 2015. She resigned the SDLP whip in February following the party's link-up with Fianna Fail.

She also stepped down as its Brexit spokesperson but has continued to be a party member.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and deputy leader Nichola Mallon have endorsed Ms Hanna as the candidate "best able to secure a pro-Remain seat in South Belfast in a critical election for Northern Ireland's future and the Brexit outcome," the party said.

Ms Hanna added: "Any forthcoming general election will be one of the most important polls since the Good Friday Agreement.

"It will not be about orange or green or other, but rather about Northern Ireland's voice in the biggest challenge to our collective peace and prosperity in many years.

"South Belfast is my home, and I am acutely aware of the damage a reckless no-deal Brexit would cause in our rich and diverse communities who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union."

She continued: "For the last two years, our vibrant, welcoming, pro-Europe community has been represented by an MP who is pursuing a hard Brexit strategy, including supporting the suspension of Parliament at a time when our voices need to be heard most.

"This election comes down to a very simple decision about who the people of South Belfast believe is best placed to be a strong and passionate pro-European voice for them.

"I am delighted that the SDLP members in South Belfast have endorsed me as the person to lead that broad coalition of Remain voices."

The DUP's Emma Little Pengelly was elected in 2017. A snap election could be held in mid to late November.

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