Wednesday 26 October 2016

Ex-SF councillor under pressure to give up seat after expulsion

Ralph Riegel and Niall O'Connor

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

Sandra McLellan,Sin Fein deputy for Cork East at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 21/6/11
Sandra McLellan,Sin Fein deputy for Cork East at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 21/6/11

The two Sinn Féin councillors disciplined following an internal party probe are coming under intense pressure to relinquish their seats on Cork County Council.

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Councillor Kieran McCarthy, who has reacted furiously after being expelled this week, confirmed that the party has asked him to step down.

And it's understood his council colleague, Melissa Mullane, will also be asked to give up her seat for the duration of her 12-month suspension period.

Such a move, if agreed to by the councillor, would see another party member fill her seat while the suspension remained in place.

The issue of the sanctions handed down to the two councillors has caused ructions within Sinn Féin's operation in the Cork East constituency.

The party has refused to reveal details of its internal review which led to the disciplinary moves being approved by party leader Gerry Adams and other members of the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle on Sunday.

Mr McCarthy claimed the party has attempted to "blacken" his name and engaged in a series of disciplinary actions worthy of "the Spanish Inquisition".

He confirmed the party has now asked him to relinquish his Cork County Council seat.

"They did - how ridiculous is it? It is totally ludicrous, undemocratic and adding insult to the injury already caused," he said.

"I was stunned by it. I can tell you here and now that it is not going to happen. Not under any circumstances. I am going to keep working for the people that elected me," he added.

The Cobh-based politician, who has been active for over 30 years, will now consider running as an Independent following his expulsion.

The move followed an internal review over complaints in relation to a number of personal clashes between various officials within the east Cork organisation.

The Irish Independent understands that a number of these complaints related to dealings between Mr McCarthy and sitting Cork East TD Sandra McLellan.

Mr McCarthy's wife briefly worked for Ms McLellan.

Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien led that internal review but refuses to comment on the specifics of the issues involved.

"There is a right to appeal so it would be inappropriate to comment while that process is ongoing," he said.

Mr McCarthy and Mallow-based Ms Mullane now have just under three weeks to lodge an appeal.

Ms Mullane was suspended from Sinn Féin for 12 months.

Six months ago, Sinn Féin closed the party's Cobh office.

Mr McCarthy insisted the dispute was related to individuals expressing an interest in contesting the General Election rather than any personality issues.

"You could suggest it in one sense but this is not what we are talking about," he said.

"We are talking about the membership of east Cork. There were different submissions made to the party about the breakdown in relationships between the sitting TD and various areas, not just Cobh."

Irish Independent

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