Cowen plays down FF's NI ambitions

Fianna Fáil has no plans to fully organise as a party in the North, Taoiseach Brian Cowen signalled today.

Just over a week after Ministers Dermot Ahern and Eamon O'Cuiv led a party-organised meeting in Co Down to discuss grassroots support there, Mr Cowen played down the development.

“We have made no decision at this time to move into a 32-county framework organisation-wise,” he insisted.

The Taoiseach said his party had set up forums in response to calls from his own party rank and file as well as others living in the North.

These talks involved people connected to other political parties as well as people linked with none and would continue, he said.

Mr Cowen was speaking at the end of his party’s two-day annual think-in, in Co Roscommon.

Less than two weeks ago, Ministers Ahern and O Cuiv joined former Ceann Comhairle Rory O’Hanlon at a Fianna Fáil-organised meeting in Downpatrick.

Around 70 people including an SDLP councillor and supporters attended the private gathering, which heard Fianna Fáil chiefs would respond to a grassroots demand to organise in the North.

It is understood the government ministers also revealed party opinion in the Republic of Ireland was in favour of such a development.

Fianna Fáil passed a motion at its ard fheis earlier this year to set up a party forum in every county in the North, where members could meet and talk with party representatives.

Talks have taken place in recent years about the possibility of a pact between Fianna Fáil and the SDLP.


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