Sunday 25 September 2016

Philip Ryan: Councillor left over 'personality clashes' within the party, says SF

Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30

Gerry Adams. Photo: Frank McGrath
Gerry Adams. Photo: Frank McGrath

Mary Lou McDonald stood in the Dáil chamber yesterday afternoon and proudly nominated Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to become the next Taoiseach of our country.

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In full view of the Irish public, Ms McDonald said Ireland needed "strong, proven leadership" and a "leader of vision".

Her party colleagues, some first-time TDs, also rose from the benches in the lower house of parliament to make equally grandiose statements about the future of Ireland and national politics.

All very noble stuff.

Around the same time, a Garda Water Unit team arrived at the home of former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall on the Navan Road. The team is usually dispersed to rivers and lakes in search of evidence of criminality and, in some tragic incidents, to locate missing persons.

Extraordinarily, the unit was yesterday examining a large fish tank in Mr Dowdall's back garden, as part of a raid on his family home.

The semi-detached house has no less than five CCTV cameras and a top-of-the-range BMW was parked in his drive way.

As of now, it is unclear why gardaí carried out such a thorough search of the former councillor's family home.

Mr Dowdall is a one-time protégé of Ms McDonald's and was one of two Sinn Féin candidates to be elected to Dublin City Council from her stable in Dublin Central during the last local elections in May 2014. In September of the same year, Mr Dowdall decided to leave the party and the following year alleged that he left due to bullying within Sinn Féin. He claimed there was an element within the party "spreading rumours" about him and generally making his life difficult.

Ms McDonald vehem­ently denied these accusations at the time. She went so far as to say she had the chapter and verse information on why he decided to resign as an elected Sinn Féin member of the local council.

"I am aware of all 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 that there was no allegation or complaint of bullying," she said. She did not tell us why Mr Dowdall decided to step aside.

Yesterday, Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty called on Ms McDonald to provide the public with clarity on the "mysterious circumstances" which resulted in the councillor leaving Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin and, in particular, Mary Lou McDonald, must clarify why Jonathan Dowdall left the party," she said.

"The party claims to be transparent, I'm calling on them to prove it. Be straight with us."

Last night, a Sinn Féin spokesman again insisted Mr Dowdall never made any bullying allegations to the party. He said the information Ms McDonald was referring to last year related to "personality clashes" within the party organisation that involved Mr Dowdall.

No more details on who these clashes were with or how they led to his resignation were provided. "Jonathan left Sinn Féin and is part of a rival political grouping in Dublin Central," the spokesman added.

Irish Independent

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