Friday 20 September 2019

Ó Cuív in firing line over unveiling of first Fianna Fáil candidate in the North

Long-serving TD held talks with party leader over his role in event

Eamon O Cuiv (Niall Carson/PA)
Eamon O Cuiv (Niall Carson/PA)
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Long-serving Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív was in the firing line last night over his involvement in the apparent unveiling of the party's first candidate for a Northern Ireland election.

Mr Ó Cuív was central to organising an event which claimed to be the unveiling of former Sinn Féin councillor Sorcha McAnespy as Fianna Fáil's first election candidate in the North.

Fianna Fáil issued a statement soon after the announcement, saying it was not an official event and insisted the party had not made a decision on running candidates in the North. The party later issued disciplinary proceedings against Mr Ó Cuív and Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly.

The Galway West TD, whose grandfather Eamon de Valera was a founding member of Fianna Fáil, was called before party leader Micheál Martin to discuss his role in the fiasco.

Before the meeting Senator Daly was stripped of his role as deputy leader of the Seanad over his involvement in an event.

Mr Daly has also been stripped of his title as Fianna Fail's Seanad spokesperson for foreign affairs as part of the disciplinary action taken against him the party leadership.

Mr Daly and Mr Ó Cuív used an event pitched as a Brexit meeting in Fermanagh to unveil Ms McAnespy as the party's first election candidate in the North.

A statement issued by the party's head office yesterday said: "Fianna Fáil leader and spokesperson on Northern Ireland, Micheál Martin TD has reassigned a number of responsibilities in the party's Seanad Éireann team.

"Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee will become the group deputy leader, while Senator Ned O'Sullivan will take responsibility for foreign affairs, the Irish overseas and diaspora.

"Deputy Martin has wished both senators well in their new roles," it added.

In a statement after the announcement, Mr Daly said he accepts the party leader's decision and "will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents".

"In my position as foreign affairs spokesperson, for the last number of years I have worked closely with John Deasy in his role as the Government's US envoy, our party spokespersons on foreign affairs, members of the US Congress, as well as the White House on the proposed visas for Irish citizens," the Kerry senator said.

He added he hopes to "continue to assist in this important issue and if necessary go to Washington DC, as we work to reach an agreement in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiators met yesterday to discuss housing as part of the review of the confidence and supply agreement which underpins the Government.

It is understood senior Department of Housing officials made a presentation and answered questions posed by members of the Fianna Fáil negotiating team.

Discussion on reviewing the three-year deal will continue in the coming days. The parties have not completed their review of the health service but they have been focusing on the housing crisis during talks this week.

Irish Independent

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