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Saturday 1 October 2016

Sinn Féin nominates councillor in bid to calm row

Published 12/10/2015 | 02:30

Sinn Féin’s Sandra McLellan: won’t defend her Dáil seat
Sinn Féin’s Sandra McLellan: won’t defend her Dáil seat

Sinn Féin has attempted to end internal party problems in Cork East with the swift nomination of Councillor Pat Buckley as their new general election candidate.

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The move came after sitting TD Sandra McLellan shocked the Cork public by confirming last weekend that she will not defend her Dáil seat. The Youghal-based politician announced her decision via social media.

Her confirmation came after three months of controversy within the party's Cork East organisation, with Ms McLellan's supporters claiming others had attempted to undermine her position.

The matter came to a head when an internal Sinn Féin review last summer recommended the expulsion of veteran Cobh-based politician, Councillor Kieran McCarthy.

Cllr McCarthy, a member of Cork County Council, claimed he was the victim of a witch-hunt and described as "laughable" party demands that he hand back his council seat. He is now considering a general election bid in Cork East as an Independent.

Sinn Féin were rocked by a number of resignations within the Cork East organisation in the wake of Cllr McCarthy's expulsion from the party.

Now, the swift nomination of Cllr Buckley - a Midleton-based member of Cork County Council - is aimed at ending internal party divisions and ensuring the Dáil berth is retained.

Cllr Buckley is a high-profile campaigner for suicide awareness supports, having founded the charity Let's Get Together.

The politician lost two of his brothers, Mark and James, to suicide and has been a tireless campaigner for enhanced supports over the past decade.

He founded the charity after finding it virtually impossible to get support for his devastated family in 2004 following the second suicide.

Cllr Buckley is also noted for his strong opposition to health cuts within the Cork area.

Sinn Féin faces a battle to defend its Cork East seat in the face of a strong Fianna Fáil campaign from Councillor Kevin O'Keeffe, a son of former Food Minister Ned O'Keeffe, two sitting Fine Gael TDs in Tom Barry and David Stanton, and Labour's high-profile Development Minister Sean Sherlock.

Cork East is also expected to see a number of strong challenges from independents.

Irish Independent

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