Thursday 18 December 2014

SF candidate launches legal challenge against decision to suspend him

Aodhan O Faolain

Published 14/01/2014 | 17:33

A SINN Fein candidate in this year's local elections has launched a legal challenge to the party's decision to suspend him for allegedly making threats to another person.

The High Court case has been brought by Edward McCarrick (33), who was selected at a convention last October to run for the party in the Ballymote (South Sligo) Local Electoral Area.

In early November he was suspended from the party, and prohibited from representing himself as being a SF member or candidate for allegedly breaching the party's code of conduct.

He claims the suspension amounts to a breach of fair procedures, and he is seeking a court order lifting the sanctions against him.

Mr McCarrick says the suspension will prevent him from representing SF in his bid to win a seat on Sligo County Council.

He says the allegations against him are a "bid to derail my local election campaign" because certain people in SF were unhappy that he had been selected at convention.

Mr McCarrick, Rathscanlon, Tubercurry, Co Sligo, says the party has refused to provide him with details about the complaints against him or with the identity of his accusers. Due to the absence of these details, he says he has been unable to rebut the allegations against him.

In an affidavit, Mr McCarrick said he was shocked by his suspension, which he said "came out of the blue" weeks after he secured the nomination.

He said in meetings with party officials following his suspension he was informed in a very vague and general way that the complaints against him concerned "alleged threats relating to a militant group."

In a December 10 letter to him, it was stated the party had received a complaint alleging he had made "threats to an individual" and as the party was not in a position to investigate such matters, the information had been passed on to the gardai.

In proceedings against SF and its Ard Chomhairle,  whose members include Gerry Adams TD, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and TDs Pearse Doherty, Mary Lou McDonald, and Jonathan O'Brien, Mr McCarrick seeks an injunction lifting his suspension and that his party membership be reinstated.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan yesterday granted Mr McCarrick permission to serve short notice of his injunction proceedings on the defendants following an application with only the McCarrick side represented.The case comes back before the court later this month.

Rory White Bl, for Mr McCarrick, said the decision to suspend his client amounts to a breach of fair procedures.

As well as a failure to provide him with details about the allegations, the party official who purported to suspend Mr McCarrick does not have the power to do so. That power in vested in the national executive alone, counsel said.

A Dublin native, he joined SF in 2009 and established a cumainn in South Sligo.  He said that some people in SF were disappointed by his selection as a candidate, and would have preferred if his opponent for the nomination had been successful.

Irish Independent

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