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Eamon Ó Cuiv goes rogue to announce candidate for NI elections without party backing

The candidate, Councillor Sorcha McAnespy, was announced at an event in Tyrone tonight.

Updated Oct 25th 2018, 11:34 PM

THERE WAS UTTER confusion within Fianna Fáil this evening as a candidate for the next local elections in the Northern Ireland was announced without the full backing of the party.

At an event in Tyrone this evening, councillor Sorcha McAnespy, who is already a member of the party’s national executive, was announced as the party’s candidate in the local elections.

The media, including TheJournal.ie, reported the story after senior party members made official, on-the-record statements about the announcement.

Standing next to TD Éamon Ó Cuív, the spokesperson on Regional Development, Rural Affairs and the Gaeltacht, as well as Senator Mark Daly, McAnespy is holding a photo of herself with the Fianna Fail branding.

This evening, the two politicians announced that they were the directors for her election campaign.

McAnespy claims Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin informed her that she will be a Fianna Fáil Party candidate in the Northern Ireland local elections.

“There is an appetite now more than ever for Fianna Fáil to contest elections in Northern Ireland. Micheál Martin made the commitments in 2013 to contest local elections in 2019 and I was delighted when he confirmed I would be a candidate for Fianna Fáil in the upcoming local elections in 2019,” she said.

However, the party rolled back on tonight’s announcement in a tweet, stating:

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Following tonight’s confusion, McAnespy said she was informed by Martin that she would be supported by the party at a private meeting which took place a number of months ago.

“I was informed of this by Michael Martin that I would be supported by the party at a private meeting with him this meeting took place a couple of months ago,” she said after Fianna Fail’s tweet this evening.

However, when asked repeatedly to confirm if Martin did state this to McAnespy, a party spokesperson said “no comment”.

President of Ógra Fianna Fail Ian Woods has since tweeted that McAnespy’s version of events is accurate.

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It is believed that party HQ does not class the event in Tyrone as an “official party event” and that only the leader of the party and the Ard Comhairle can make a decision about who can run as a candidate.

It is understood that some within the party believe Ó’ Cuiv and Daly went solo announcing her candidacy tonight without having the authority to do so.

Daly told TheJournal.ie that as a “party member, a public representative and member of the national executive, she [McAnespy] is entitled to have a Fianna Fáil meeting any time”.

At tonight’s event, which party sources state was not an official party event, O’Cuiv said he believed that Fianna Fáil standing in the north will “help to give proper representation to the people concerned with the day-to-day issues, we will offer fresh thinking and challenge the status quo of Sinn Féin and DUP which has lead to the shutting of Stormont and dysfunctional politics”.

Daly said the party has a vision for Omagh, Tyrone, Northern Ireland and the whole island “that encompasses but also listen to views from across the spectrum, as a party we are strong enough in our identity so that we can reach out to others and realise that a shared future is possible”.

He added that he believed McAnespy’s candidacy launch would be the first of many in the north.

McAnespy was the first councillor to quit Sinn Féin over an alleged culture of misogyny, as reported in The Irish Independent last year.

She has spoken out about being exposed to a “toxic” atmosphere within Sinn Féin after she tried to strike alliances with unionists and other political opponents, which she claims forced her to quit Sinn Féin just two years after she topped the poll for the party in the local elections.

The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has long been considering running candidates in the north.

In an interview about running candidates, Martin told TheJournal.ie in December that such a move was an “ongoing issue in the party” and did not rule out the prospect.

“Step by step,” he said.

Earlier this year, Martin told the national executive that preparations were at an advanced stage, adding that an announcement was expected in the autumn.

It is understood there is substantial support within the parliamentary party for organising in the north.

 

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