Éamon Ó Cuív escapes demotion after Mark Daly sanctioned

Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív appears to have escaped sanction from party leader Micheál Martin after the pair met face to face last night.

It had been expected that Mr Ó Cuív would be sacked as the party’s rural affairs spokesman after senator Mark Daly was relieved of his double position of deputy Seanad leader and foreign affairs spokesman.

However, party sources said that Mr Ó Cuív was not likely to be demoted, despite being a persistent thorn in the side of Mr Martin.

The decision comes after Mr Daly and Mr Ó Cuív participated in an apparent launch of a party candidate in Northern Ireland last month.

Mr Daly said he accepted the decision of his party leader Mr Martin to sack him as Seanad deputy leader.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he said: “I accept the decision of the leader and I will 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 TD 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.

“I have been working closely with all sides and hope to continue to assist in this important issue and if necessary go to DC, as we work to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.”

It is understood that Mr Daly was privately less than happy to be sanctioned while Mr Ó Cuív seened to be spared.

Mr Martin has replaced Mr Daly as deputy leader with Fingal-based senator Lorraine Clifford Lee.

Senator Ned O’Sullivan has been given responsibility for foreign affairs, the Irish overseas, and diaspora.

The news was confirmed by way of a statement this morning.

“Deputy Martin has wished both senators well in their new roles,” added the statement.

Last month, Mr Ó Cuív and Mr Daly were photographed attending the election launch of councillor Sorcha McAnespy, who is an independent councillor in Fermanagh.

The two men were pictured with Ms McAnespy alongside Fianna Fáil- branded election posters only for party headquarters to issue a statement to insist that no decision had been taken as to whether it would contest elections in the North.

“It follows then that it has selected no candidate to contest these elections,” added a statement at the time.

“Discussions between the party and the SDLP are ongoing and a statement on our future intentions will be made in due course,” said the statement.

Fianna Fáil and the SDLP have been in discussions about a possible merger but those talks have not concluded.

During the summer, Mr Ó Cuív courted controversy when he was linked with being nominated to contest the presidency, despite the party deciding to back Michael D Higgins.

In August, it emerged that Mr Ó Cuív had ignored the view of Mr Martin and met with a number of councillors who wanted him to be Fianna Fáil’s presidential candidate.

Commenting on her promotion, Ms Clifford Lee said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed deputy leader of the Fianna Fáil group in the Seanad today by party leader Micheál Martin.

“Along with Senator Catherine Ardagh and our colleagues in the Seanad we will continue to highlight issues such as housing, health, transport, and childcare, and will work constructively towards An Ireland for All.”