Éamon Ó Cuív unlikely to face sanctions over North election event

TD announced Fianna Fáil’s first North candidate without confirmation from party

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly with Sorcha McAnespy, in  Omagh, Co Tyrone. Photograph: PA Wire

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly with Sorcha McAnespy, in Omagh, Co Tyrone. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Two Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members are not expected to face any sanctions after they announced the party’s first candidate in Northern Ireland last week without the knowledge of the party leadership.

Party leader Micheál Martin has written to Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly after both attended the announcement of Sorcha McAnespy as a party candidate in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Ms McAnespy is a sitting councillor for Fermanagh and Omagh and is also a member of Fianna Fáil’s ardchomhairle.

However, once the report of the launch appeared, Fianna Fáil headquarters moved quickly to say that the party had yet to decide if it would contest local elections in the North.

Yesterday Mr Ó Cuív and Mr Daly separately confirmed they had received a note from Mr Martin but would not divulge its contents.

Mr Ó Cúiv said there had been confusion over the matter. He said there were differing views of a decision taken at an ardchomhairle meeting during the summer. It was on one view that the announcement had been made.

Brexit

The Galway West TD said he had attended engagements in Belfast and Co Antrim and had travelled to Omagh on his return journey home. The event had also included a discussion on Brexit.

“There is two tellings on every story and it would not be a great surprise to see a sitting councillor being announced as a party candidate,” he said.

For his part, Mr Daly said the day Ms McAnespy jointed Fianna Fáil and the party accepted her membership, it was known she was going to run as a candidate.

“It was clear from the National Executive [ardchomhairle] meeting in the summer. She is entitled to launch her campaign. I was asked to be her director of elections and I launched her campaign,” he said.

Sensitivity

The party has been discussing expanding to Northern Ireland but there remains sensitivity in relation to its ongoing discussions with the SDLP. It is understood that the party leadership did not see the “launch” as helpful at a sensitive phase.

In a tweet posted immediately after the reports appeared, Fianna Fáil said: “Despite some reports, the party has made no decision with regard to contesting the 2019 NI local elections. The party is continuing its discussions with the SDLP.”