Fianna Fáil sack senator behind 'rogue' Sorcha McAnespy candidate launch

Senator Mark Daly (right) in Omagh last month with Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív and Sorcha McAnespy

THE Fianna Fáil senator behind last month's 'rogue' launch of a party candidate to contest next year's council elections in the north has been sacked from his role as deputy leader in the Seanad.

Kerry senator Mark Daly stood alongside Tyrone councillor Sorcha McAnespy in Omagh as she revealed plans to contest May's local government election on a Fianna Fáil ticket.

The pair were joined at the October 25 announcement – which was billed as a Brexit event – by Galway TD Éamon Ó Cuív.

A press release was issued to coincide with the announcement, claiming the apparent endorsement of party leader Michéal Martin.

But shortly after the news broke, it emerged that Ms McAnespy, who sits as an independent on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, did not have the backing of the party, which is currently in talks with the SDLP about a prospective merger.

Ms McAnespy's actions mean she faces expulsion from Fianna Fáil's national executive, where she has sat for the past year.

Yesterday the party leadership moved to sanction Mr Daly, who previously told The Irish News that the Fianna Fáil national executive had told Ms McAnespy that she would be one of the party's candidates in next year's council elections.

The statement from Fianna Fáil said Mr Martin had "reassigned a number of responsibilities" for the party's senators, which also sees Mr Daly lose the foreign affairs portfolio.

Making no reference to Mr Daly, the statement said Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee was to become the group deputy leader, while Senator Ned O’Sullivan will take responsibility for foreign affairs.

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

Mr Daly issued a statement saying he accepted the party leader’s decision and would "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 that 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”.

It understood Mr Ó Cuív may also face sanctions from party headquarters for his role in last month's 'rogue' announcement.

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