The Taoiseach has assured unionists that Fianna Fáil will never succumb to sectarianism, or to a narrow nationalism that fails to take account of unionism.

Bertie Ahern was speaking at the annual party commemoration of Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown in Co Kildare.

He said that whatever the party decides to do about organising in Northern Ireland, it would not deviate from the responsible and positive role it has played in developing the Irish Peace Process.

Mr Ahern said that each of the party's 3,000 cumann around the State had been asked to hold a special meeting between now and Easter to discuss the possibility of becoming a 32-county organisation.

Their submissions will be considered by a party committee chaired by Dermot Ahern, and ultimately an Ard Fhéis will decide whether Fianna Fáil should organise in the North.