Saturday 1 October 2016

Mary Lou categorically denies former Sinn Fein councillor's bullying claims

Joyce Fegan and Niall O'Connor

Published 01/07/2015 | 14:34

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

SINN Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has categorically rejected allegations by a former councillor that he was bullied before quitting the party.

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Ms McDonald today insisted that Sinn Féin has robust mechanisms to deal with the issue of bullying and that all complaints are taken seriously.

But she completely denied claims by former councillor Jonathan Dowdall that he brought bullying claims to the attention of the party.

Ms McDonald said she has always had a good relationship with Mr Dowdall and encouraged him to run as a local election candidate in her own constituency in the North Inner City.

The senior Sinn Féin politician also said she is disappointed Mr Dowdall has now been “plumped for a rival candidate” in reference to to decision to join up with former Lord Mayor Christy Burke.

On the claims of bullying, Ms McDonald rejected the allegations in their entirety.

“As to the issue of bullying, there was no complaint ever made of bullying. That simply didn’t happen.

And we have very specific procedures that kick in if there is an allegation as serious as bullying, that is dealt with, you’ve seen some of the evidence of our procedures and actions in recent times, in a different part of the country.

So we wouldn’t take any of that lightly. So all I can do is wish Jonathan well. I have never had as much as a cross word with him. He is a person I have always regarded very well, I know his family.”

She added: “I am aware of all of the minute ins and outs of all of this scenario and I can tell you categorically that he was not bullied. I can also tell you there was no allegation or complaint of bullying.”

Mr Dowdall made the claims of bullying in an interview with the Herald earlier this week.

Mr Dowdall claimed that after he won the seat he was told not to visit certain parts of his own ward because it would upset some party members.

He said that after he became ill last year, he received three or four phone calls a day from Sinn Féin members telling him to go back to work on the ground or give up his seat.

Mr Dowdall said that instances of alleged bullying had been reported to party authorities.

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