Here we go again. The last decade has witnessed many press reports on Fianna Fáil’s supposed intention to stand for regional elections in the north-east of the country. The last big kerfuffle was in October of 2017 when Sorcha McAnespy, an Independent councillor in Omagh, formerly with Sinn Féin, was elected to FF’s ruling ard chomhairle, bypassing rival northerner Pat McCarthy, who served as the mayor of Belfast for the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). At the time, McAnespy indicated that she would be running as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the north’s planned local government elections of 2019, making a reality out the long predicted expansion by the Soldiers of Destiny. Despite this, however, there has been precious little sign of any FF boots on the ground in her Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area.
In an article for the Belfast Telegraph, the veteran journalist Suzanne Breen claims that in the event of any all-Ireland move by Fianna Fáil, the SDLP intends to dissolve itself rather than compete or merge with the larger national party.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has refused to rule out “a realignment in Irish politics” that would see his party standing aside and Fianna Fail organising in Northern Ireland.
Senior SDLP sources told the Belfast Telegraph that around 80% of the party supported it “leaving the stage” to make way for Fianna Fail.
They want the move to happen swiftly so Fianna Fail can contest next year’s council elections here.
Which is an astonishing admission for any political grouping to make to its present or future voters. Please support the SDLP at the ballot box, even though we’ll almost certainly close up shop as soon as Fianna Fáil appears on the scene. And perhaps even sooner…