Adams and McDonald could be forced to intervene in SF row
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald may be forced to intervene in a bid to resolve a bitter row involving six of the party's councillors.
The Sinn Féin group in Wicklow is divided amid a long-running dispute over issues such as the chairperson position on the council.
Three of the councillors have been stripped of the whip - meaning they are effectively independents while holding Sinn Féin membership.
The row centres upon a move by the party to install a close associate of the local TD John Brady as the group's chairperson.
The decision to appoint Bray-based councillor Michael O'Connor to the post infuriated three other councillors: Gerry O'Neill of West Wicklow, John Snell of Rathnew and Oliver O'Brien, also of Bray.
All three have objected strongly to the party's handling of the issue and have attended a number of meetings with senior party figures keen to resolve the row in recent weeks.
Councillor Nicola Lawless of Greystones and councillor Mary McDonald of Arklow have remained within the group.
Among the senior figures despatched to resolve the row include former IRA commander Sean Hughes, who was nicknamed 'The Surgeon' by security forces.
Mr Hughes, a close associate of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, was named in Westminster under parliamentary privilege in November 2007 as having authorised the murder of Paul Quinn in South Armagh. He has always denied the allegations and has never faced charges in connection with the brutal killing.
Despite several attempts, sources say the parties are no closer to resolving the row.
Now, it has emerged the three councillors who have lost the whip are seeking a full hearing involving the party's Árd Chomharle, Sinn Féin's ruling body.
Those who sit on the Árd Chomhairle include Mr Adams, Ms McDonald, the party's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy.
In a statement, a Sinn Féin spokesman said the party "did everything it could to resolve the matter" over recent months.
"Unfortunately, this was not successful," he added.