FF's latest recruit eyes NI election
- A former Sinn Féin Assembly member who has joined Fianna Fáil said tonight he would relish the opportunity to stand for his new party in forthcoming elections north of the border.
Gerry McHugh, who now sits at Stormont as an Independent MLA, said he wants to be at the forefront of Fianna Fáil's efforts to develop support in Northern Ireland.
The 57-year-old Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative said while any future decision to contest elections rests with the party leadership, he would support any attempt to organise on a 32-county basis.
"Elections are the currency all political parties deal in, but whether they get involved in that in the north is a matter for Fianna Fáil," he said. "If they did I would indeed like to be involved. I would have no difficulty standing for them."
Mr McHugh left Sinn Féin two years ago after 30 years in the party, claiming he was disillusioned with the direction the leadership was taking.
While he has now become a member of Fianna Fáil, officially he continues to be an independent at Stormont.
Fianna Fáil has already signalled its intention to develop its organisation north of the border and last year considered with a potential link up with the SDLP, but an alliance never materialised.
Mr McHugh attended a Fianna Fáil meeting in Enniskillen last week aimed at setting up a county branch of the party. Former GAA president Peter Quinn was also in attendance.
The MLA said he felt Sinn Féin and the SDLP were wedded to Northern Ireland institutions and were not capable of delivering a united Ireland. He also said he was sick of sectarian head-count politics he claimed the main parties in Stormont indulged in and said Fianna Fail represented a new approach.
"I have always wanted to be involved in politics and wanted to achieve my own goal of a united Ireland and certainly there are many many young people within Fianna Fáil who are also committed to achieving that," he said. "I believe they are in a much better position to deliver that than any of the other parties."