Senator defends Sorcha McAnespy's 'rogue' announcement as Fianna Fáil council election candidate
THE FIANNA Fáil senator who stood alongside Tyrone councillor Sorcha McAnespy as she revealed plans to contest next year's local government election has backed her claim that she was endorsed by the party's national executive.
Fianna Fáil headquarters have moved to distance themselves from Ms McAnespy after last Thursday night's surprise announcement, where she was joined in Omagh by TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly.
In what is being viewed by the Fianna Fáil leadership as a 'rogue' action, Ms McAnespy and her associates issued a press release claiming the apparent endorsement of party leader Michéal Martin.
But shortly after the news was posted on social media, it emerged that the former Sinn Féin councillor, who sits as an independent on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, had made the announcement without party backing.
The Irish News reported on Saturday that Ms McAnspey now faces being expelled from Fianna Fáil's national executive, where she has sat for the past year.
She said yesterday that she would be issuing a statement on the matter over the coming days and in the meantime would not be commenting.
A Fianna Fáil spokesman has insisted that claims of an endorsement by the party are not true.
However, Mr Daly defended his party colleague, saying she was told "months ago" by the Fianna Fáil national executive that she would be one of the party's candidates in next year's council elections.
"I don't understand where the confusion comes from because the party has said it will be running candidates in next year's local government elections," he said.
"The ard fheis is the supreme ruling body of the organisation and they have decided to contest elections in the north."
The senator denied Ms McAnespy was circumventing the selection process.
"The national executive not headquarters are the people who ratify candidates and if you're told by the national executive that you're a party candidate in next year's election then you are," he said.
"The problem seems to be more to do with headquarters and not the candidate."
When asked whether Ms McAnespy had confirmation of her selection in writing, Mr Daly said he did not think that "was a rule in the party".
"I've ran for numerous elections and nobody's ever written to me," he said.
But The Irish News understands that agreed Fianna Fáil candidates receive a certificate of authentication from the party to verify they are bona fide.
Mr Daly said he had no regrets about last Thursday night and he denied the suggestion that the controversy around Ms McAnespy's announcement as a local council candidate had damaged Fianna Fáil in the north.