Fianna Fáil distances itself from 'unveiling of candidate' for NI elections
Fianna Fáil has moved to disassociate the party with the unveiling of a candidate for next year's local elections in Northern Ireland.
Former Sinn Féin councillor Sorcha McAnespy was announced as Fianna Fáil's first candidate to contest an election in the North.
The announcement was made at an event in Omagh, Tyrone, and was attended by senior Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly.
However, shortly after the event Fianna Fáil's official Twitter account stated: "Despite some reports the party has made no decision in regard to contesting the NI (Northern Ireland) elections.
"The party is continuing its discussions with the SDLP."
Mr Daly said Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Ms McAnespy she would be a candidate in the local elections and the event was to announce her candidacy.
"Under the rules of the party you can't contest an election without being a candidate and she was told at a national executive meeting a couple of months ago she would be candidate," Mr Daly said.
Mr Daly said more Northern Ireland candidates would be announced for Fianna Fáil in the coming weeks.
Ms McAnespy, a member of Fianna Fáil's National Executive, is already an independent councillor for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
The move comes amid ongoing speculation that Fianna Fáil might ultimately merge with the SDLP to run in future Northern Ireland elections.
It was reported Mr Ó Cuív and Mr Daly would be Ms McAnespy's campaign managers.
"I am delighted Deputy Ó Cuív and Senator Daly agreed to come to Omagh this evening to launch my campaign following my invitation and have both agreed to be my campaign managers," Ms McAnespy told the Press Association.
"There is an appetite for change in Northern Ireland and there is an appetite now more than ever for Fianna Fáil to contest elections in Northern Ireland." Mr Ó Cuív said his party would offer "fresh thinking" in Northern Ireland.