Fianna Fáil denies election choice in Northern Ireland

By David Young and Elaine Loughlin

Fianna Fáil’s electoral plans for Northern Ireland are in disarray after senior politicians unveiled its first local council candidate, only for the party to later deny it was happening.

An hour after Sorcha McAnespy was announced as the party’s historic first candidate in a local government election north of the border, Fianna Fáil’s official Twitter account insisted the party had not yet decided to run candidates in the 2019 election.

However, Ms McAnespy, who was previously a member of Sinn Féin, remains adamant she will be standing, stating: “Fianna Fáil is an all-Ireland party. We’re a voice for all the people and as a member of the party I’m going to represent the people of my area.”

Eamon Ó Cuív TD and Senator Mark Daly had announced at a function in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on Thursday that Ms McAnespy was being put forward as a local election candidate. However, it is thought both politicians may have gone on a “solo run” in making the announcement.

Asked yesterday if the party’s national executive decided to ratify and put forward candidates in the North, Ms McAnespy said that “there was a motion at the last Ard Fheis and that was discussed and voted on”.

“I was told by Micheál Martin at the national executive that I would be standing. I set the wheels in motion,” she told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show.

However, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson later said: “Despite some claims and reports, the Fianna Fáil Party has made no decision on whether or not it will contest elections in the North.

“It follows then that it has selected no candidate to contest these elections. Discussions between the party and the SDLP are ongoing and a statement on our future intentions will be made in due course.”

Mr Daly said as a member of Fianna Fáil, Ms McAnespy is obliged to stand for the party if contesting any election.

“She was informed by the national executive she would be a Fianna Fáil candidate. We are seven months out from local elections in the North, she is in a very tough constituency, so she is going to need every hour of every day to campaign as a Fianna Fáil representative,” he said.

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