Sunday 26 March 2017

Sinn Fein in turmoil as second wave of resignations expected

Councillor Kieran McCarthy (inset left) has been expelled, while Melissa Mullane (inset right) has been suspended
Councillor Kieran McCarthy (inset left) has been expelled, while Melissa Mullane (inset right) has been suspended

Ralph Riegel and Niall O'Connor

SINN Fein has been plunged into turmoil as a second wave of mass resignations is expected in party.

Independent.ie understands a raft of Sinn Fein members in Cobh are tonight planning to resign over the controversy surrounding the disciplinary of two party councillors.

Earlier, it emerged that Sinn Fein received a letter from its Fermoy branch stating that 15 members had resigned in protest over the expulsion of councillor Kieran McCarthy and the suspension of councillor Melissa Mullane.

Read story here: Sinn Fein rocked by resignation of entire branch organisation in protest at treatment of councillors  

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was among a group of party bosses that this week sanctioned the expulsion of Cork councillor Kieran McCarthy, as well as the 12-month suspension of his council colleague Melissa Mullane
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was among a group of party bosses that this week sanctioned the expulsion of Cork councillor Kieran McCarthy, as well as the 12-month suspension of his council colleague Melissa Mullane

Both sanctions were handed down following an internal party review.

However, a senior Sinn Fein source tonight said the party was contacted and told that five of the 15 individuals were not official members. The source also said four of the individuals who apparently resigned from the Fermoy branch were not present at Tuesday's meeting and have indicated their desire to remain a member.

Meanwhile, sources tonight said the party is braced for further resignations as its Cork operation is plunged into absolute turmoil.

The party branch in Cobh was due to meet tonight and it's expected another wave of resignations will follow.

Read more here: Ex-SF councillor under pressure to give up seat after expulsion  

And a separate meeting in Mallow is due tomorrow, during which delegates will debate the sanctions handed down to Mr McCarthy and Ms Mullane.

The senior party source tonight said all such mentions are unofficial because the officer boards in Sinn Fein in Cork East have been stood down.

"We will do all we can to ensure as many members remain members," the source said.

In a statement, Fermoy’s SF organisation said the two councillors were hugely respected within the local party.

Read more here: Sinn Fein chiefs: We had 'no option' but to expel councillor  

“We can, therefore, not stand idly by while what we view as a seriously unjust and undemocratic act is carried out in our name,” it warned.

“We consider the action an affront to the democratic, socialist and republican ideals that the party stands for and would strongly urge the SF leadership to revisit their decision and not stand in the way of the democratic process within the party.”

One member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were “absolutely appalled” by the disciplinary action taken by the Ard Comhairle.

“There are major problems within the party organisation in Cork East and the actions taken against Councillors McCarthy and Mullane smack of just shooting the messenger,” he said.

Read more here: Sinn Fein councillor expelled from party claims he was 'stabbed in the back'  

Councillor McCarthy ruled out relinquishing his Cork County Council seat.

“They did (ask me to resign) – 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.”

His expulsion followed an internal review over complaints in relation to a number of personal clashes between various officials within the Cork East organisation.

Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien led that internal review and he refused 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.

Read more here: Sinn Fein expels councillor and suspends another following internal investigation  

Councillor McCarthy said he has not made up his mind about a Dail bid as an independent.

“It is being looked at. I am talking to my supporters. I am certainly getting a lot of calls about it. It is something I will make a decision on within the next couple of weeks.”

SF’s nightmare scenario is that their Cork East vote could be split by an independent challenger – leaving the door open to Fianna Fail reclaiming their seat and Labour’s Junior Minister Sean Sherlock defending his berth.

Fine Gael is widely tipped to hold their two seats.

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