Sinn Féin has announced that it will back unionist Ian Marshall, a former president of the Ulster Farmers' Union and anti-Brexit campaigner, in this week's Seanad by-election.

In a statement issued this evening, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald announced that the party will support Mr Marshall's candidacy.

She said: "I have met with Ian on a number of occasions in recent weeks and I have been impressed by his views on Brexit and the potential impact Brexit will have on the island, north and south.

"I believe Ian will be a strong Independent voice in the Seanad; providing an anti-Brexit unionist perspective, which is a welcome addition to the political discourse surrounding the issue in the Oireachtas.

"Brexit affects people from all backgrounds and ways of life; nationalist, unionists and everyone in between."

She added: "From his time as a farmer, as president of the Ulster Farmers' Union, and his current position at Queen's University, Ian is particularly qualified and experienced to advocate on behalf of farmers and the agri-sector; which faces massive challenges in the time ahead.

"Ian is a unionist. I am an Irish Republican. As I have stated repeatedly, the Ireland I want to see is one where one can comfortably be Irish or British, both or neither. I believe Ian can bring a new and interesting voice to the discussion surrounding a 'new Ireland'."

She wished him well ahead of the counting of votes on Friday.