I still aim to run for Fianna Fail in Northern Ireland election, insists McAnespy

An independent Co Tyrone councillor at the centre of a Fianna Fail fall-out says she still intends to run as a candidate for the party in next year’s council elections.

Sorcha McAnespy also said her position on the party’s national executive is not under threat.

Ms McAnespy is said to be contesting next May’s Fermanagh and Omagh District Council election as a Fianna Fail candidate – but the party said it had made “no decision” on taking part.

On Wednesday Kerry senator Mark Daly was stripped of his title as Fianna Fail’s deputy leader in the Seanad for his role in an event on October 25 which appeared to unveil Ms McAnespy as a candidate without the party’s permission.

He also lost his title of Fianna Fail’s Seanad spokesperson on foreign affairs.

A day later, Eamon O Cuiv was removed from the Fianna Fail front bench over his involvement in the same event.

Fianna Fail quickly issued a statement saying no decision had been made to put forward candidates for next year’s Northern Ireland local elections.

Ms McAnespy, an Omagh councillor, has now received confirmation that her role with the party will continue.

“My position on the national executive is not under threat,” she said. “In fact, on Thursday I received the official notification in the post.

“As the local councillor and Fianna Fail Ard Chomhairle member, the natural assumption that it would be my desire to run under the Fianna Fail banner in the local council elections in May 2019 is not contested.

“However, like any democratic party, there are procedures to be followed in these processes. The purpose of the meeting held in Omagh was to share with my constituents and the greater community my perspective on Brexit, the Good Friday Agreement and issues arising from the recent Brexit referendum.

“Brexit has presented a number of issues for constituents who have asked me to assist in a range of areas and to help address many concerns.

“The farming community, business groups, health care professionals and many others have asked me to represent their concerns. The volume of people looking for assistance with passport applications alone at times has been overwhelming.

“As an elected representative of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council I am the only local councillor to date to openly hold such a public event on Brexit. I hope to hold similar events in the near future.

“Also being an elected representative on the Fianna Fail national executive, I invited members of Fianna Fail to the event including former government minister Eamon O Cuiv TD, who addressed the meeting.”

Ms McAnespy quit Sinn Fein in 2016 and would become the first Fianna Fail candidate to stand in an election in Northern Ireland.

Outlining her political future, she added: “I am an independent councillor at present. I fully intend to contest elections in the future as a Fianna Fail candidate and I want to thank my many friends, family and the wider community for their ongoing support.

“I want to give a special thanks to all the Fianna Fail members and officials who have supported and advised me at this time.

“The response I received from the Omagh public has been incredible. I may be an independent councillor at present but it is refreshing to have the confidence of a national organisation behind me and the people I represent.”

Belfast Telegraph