Belfast Telegraph

Fianna Fail politician behind botched Northern Ireland candidate launch says 'greater good was served'

Eamon O’Cuiv TD (left), councillor Sorcha McAnespy and Senator Mark Daly at her controversial “candidate launch” in Omagh in October (PA)
Eamon O’Cuiv TD (left), councillor Sorcha McAnespy and Senator Mark Daly at her controversial “candidate launch” in Omagh in October (PA)

The Fianna Fail TD behind a scuppered attempt to run a candidate in Northern Ireland's local elections has said the "greater good was served" and he has no regrets about the incident - despite it resulting in his being sacked from his party's front bench.

Speaking to Irish news website TheJournal.ie, Galway West TD Eamon O'Cuiv said: “I have no complaint, I knew what I did, I pushed the boat out, I take it on the chin, no one has heard me complain about it, not being on the front bench, and I will just continue to work.”

The incident saw independent Co Tyrone councillor Sorcha McAnespy announced as the party's candidate for the May 2019 council elections, with an event being held in Omagh in October to announce her candidacy.

Ms McAnespy appeared at the event alongside Mr O'Cuiv and senator Mark Daly.

It later transpired party leader Micheal Martin had not authorised the move.

As a result of the rogue action Senator Mr Daly was stripped of his title as Fianna Fail's deputy leader in the Seanad, and Mr O'Cuiv being removed from his role as the party's rural affairs spokesperson.

Mr O'Cuiv told TheJournal.ie his actions were born out of frustration at the slow pace of progress of Fianna Fail running candidates in Northern Ireland.

"I don’t know what the holdup is. It was promised for 2019 for the local elections – we keep getting told it is going to happen," he said.

"I hope it happens and if I gave it a little push to try and force the issue and if I lost my place on the front bench as a consequence, I am happy to take the punishment.

"...Because I think the greater good was served by highlighting we weren’t moving forward with this issue and there are candidates that want to stand for Fianna Fail."

During the summer it emerged Fiann Fail and the SDLP had been in discussions over a potential merger or voting pact.

In November, Micheal Martin said talks with the SDLP were "steady and substantive" and emphasised the historical links between the parties.

There has been reservations from members of both parties about over any possible merger or deal.

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna said she would not be involved if her party merged with Fianna Fail and that such a move would not advance solutions for problems in Northern Ireland.

"It would be remiss of me not to say it is not a politics that appeals to me and it is not a party that personally I would join," she told the BBC's The View in October.

"John Hume located the SDLP very firmly in the social democratic tradition and in a global tradition and that is good enough for me."

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