Joint FF/SDLP candidate for 2009 European elections in Northern Ireland?

It seems a bit early for such a step to me but there is speculation that Fianna Fáil could be making a move north of the border sooner rather than later. According to

Minister for Foreign Dermot Ahern said during a visit to Belfast that the party had received hundreds of submissions over the past few months and there was a feeling that the consultation period should be extended to the summer to properly complete their deliberations.

Mr Ahern, who is heading up an internal Fianna Fáil committee on a possible move to become an all-Ireland party said: “The consultation process is over and we will be holding a meeting next week.

There has been persistent speculation that Fianna Fáil could merge with the SDLP, with the two parties possibly agreeing a common candidate for next year’s European Parliament election.

Last weekend, SDLP leader Mark Durkan refused to rule out a possible merger between the two parties when announcing that his party that had set up their own working group which was exploring all political options on the island of Ireland.

Even if 2009 does seem a little on the early side, a European election with a single agreed candidate with the SDLP would seem the easiest introduction for Fianna Fáil north of the border, especially as the party has already ruled out standing in Westminster elections.