Fianna Fail to capitalise on post-Brexit sentiment by running candidates in Northern Ireland

Fianna Fail to capitalise on post-Brexit sentiment by running candidates in Northern Ireland

Fianna Fáil is preparing to capitalise on the post-Brexit sentiment by securing its first elected representatives north of the Border in 2019.

Micheál Martin intends to be in a position to run candidates in the 2019 elections in a move that will unsettle both Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

The party has long talked about the possibility of being a political force in the North.

However, the idea was put on ice following the 2011 election drubbing in the Republic.

Mr Martin revealed that he saw 2019 as a realistic target date for a major move into northern politics.

He notes that they are already a registered party and held their youth conference in Newry last year.

He said that after the 2011 General Election the focus was to win back "critical mass in the Republic", but it was an "open possibility" that they would establish full branches in the North.

"I think work needs to be done before I make any declarations in that regard," he said, adding: "We're looking to contest the 2019 local elections. That remains a target."

Fianna Fáil are also set to start work on what the leader described as the first document to set out what a united Ireland might look like.

Party officials are to spend at least 12 months working on a document that investigates the practicalities of a united Ireland, including merging the education and health systems.

"What are we talking about when we talk about a united Ireland? Is it two parliaments?

"The SDLP say they believe in that, so do Sinn Féin. So it's not the only idea that Dublin rules Ireland. You'd have two assemblies," Mr Martin said.

"It's evolving work. I've no sense that Sinn Féin or anybody else have any sense of what the configuration would be.

"Economically, what does it mean? Subsidy-wise, what does it mean? Integration of two health services, what does it mean? There are two education systems, which are quiet different in some respects.

"So there are a whole range of issues there that we're proposing to put a team together to do some work on."

Kevin Doyle