Northern Ireland news

Fianna Fáil's Sorcha McAnespy to run as independent after party's SDLP link-up

Omagh councillor Sorcha McAnespy
Brendan Hughes

A TYRONE councillor has said she is "disappointed" not to be standing for election as a Fianna Fáil candidate following the party's link-up with the SDLP.

Sorcha McAnespy, a Fianna Fáil national executive member, will seek re-election in the Omagh area next month as an independent candidate.

Last year a row erupted in Fianna Fáil after the independent councillor was unofficially announced as a candidate for the party in the north's council elections.

Fianna Fáil headquarters said "no decision" had been made, and the party later announced a formal partnership with the SDLP – including support for SDLP election campaigns.

Galway West TD Eamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly were later sacked from senior positions in Fianna Fáil for their involvement in the 'rogue' launch.

The independent councillor, who was elected a Sinn Féin representative in 2011 but quit the party in 2016 amid accusations of "nepotism and misogyny", said the SDLP was not her "natural home" and she would have liked to have sought re-election as a Fianna Fáil candidate.

"I am disappointed, of course I am, but having said that I still want to work for the people who I have been working for since 2011 – I don't want to let them down," she said.

But Ms McAnespy said she has "the best of both worlds", with support from a party structure and the freedom of being an independent.

Despite the Fianna Fáil partnership, two SDLP candidates will be standing for election in the same area as Ms McAnespy.

"That's their decision and that's their choice," Ms McAnespy said of the SDLP putting forward candidates.

"All I can do is my best to get elected."

Ms McAnespy said some Fianna Fáil members have said they would help her canvass, and individual members would likely make their own choices on who to support.

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