Eamon O Cuiv demoted over Fianna Fail candidate ‘launch’ in Northern Ireland

A second Fianna Fail member has been sacked from a senior party role due to his involvement in the unauthorised launch of a party election candidate in Northern Ireland.

Eamon O Cuiv, who was front-bench spokesman for Regional Development, Rural Affairs and the Gaeltacht, has been demoted by party leader Micheal Martin.

The move was announced a day after Senator Mark Daly was stripped of his duties as Fianna Fail deputy leader in the Seanad for his role in the unsanctioned event in Omagh.

Last month, Mr O Cuiv and Mr Daly revealed Sorcha McAnespy as a “candidate” for next year’s local government elections.

The announcement appeared to herald Fianna Fail’s long-anticipated move into electoral politics north of the border.

Ms McAnespy is a member of Fianna Fail’s National Executive and an independent councillor on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

After the event in Omagh, photos were issued of the trio posing with Fianna Fail-branded election posters carrying Ms McAnespy’s image, urging people to vote for her.

Confusion abounded an hour later when Fianna Fail’s official Twitter account said no decision had been made on contesting the 2019 election in Northern Ireland.

Party colleagues have since accused Mr O Cuiv and Mr Daly, who said they were acting as Ms McAnespy’s campaign managers, of embarking on a “solo run”.

The episode came amid ongoing speculation Fianna Fail might ultimately merge with the SDLP to run in future Northern Ireland elections.

Mr Martin has previously stated his party’s intention to stand in elections in Northern Ireland, though he has not made clear whether that would be on its own ticket or as part of a new political project with the SDLP.

In the wake of the event in Omagh, Fianna Fail insisted talks with the SDLP were ongoing.

Mr O Cuiv, a grandson of party founder Eamon de Valera, was summoned to a meeting with Mr Martin on Wednesday night. On Thursday evening, the party announced the outcome.

“During the course of that meeting, Deputy O Cuiv made it clear that he was aware in advance of plans to hold an unauthorised launch of a candidate and agreed to participate in the event,” said a party spokesman.

“In light of this information, regretfully, Deputy O Cuiv’s continued membership of the party’s front bench is no longer tenable.

“His portfolio responsibilities will be reassigned in the time ahead.”

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