Councillor quits SF after claim he was bullied
A Sinn Féin councillor has quit the party claiming he had been the victim of an "unrelenting bullying campaign".
The former Mayor of Athlone, Paul Hogan, made the announcement saying he was leaving the party with "a very heavy heart" after 20 years of membership.
It is the latest in a string of internal disputes in Sinn Féin - many involving allegations of bullying - in recent years that have seen several councillors quit or be expelled.
Sinn Féin has made repeated denials that there is a culture of bullying in the party.
Mr Hogan has made claims that he was bullied in the summer of 2017.
His decision to quit the party was announced in recent days and his allegation of a "smear campaign" against him was reported in local media. Mr Hogan didn't respond to attempts to contact him last night.
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said Mr Hogan's resignation "will come as little surprise, as he has been in conflict with the party locally and was operating as a de-facto independent councillor for some time now."
A statement claimed: "This is despite the fact that the party made every effort to resolve the issues in the area."
The first signs that something was amiss in Sinn Féin came before last year's general election when outgoing Cork East TD Sandra McLellan said she would not run again, saying she was undermined by constituency activists.
Limerick councillor Lisa Marie Sheehy (25), from Kilfinane, resigned in September after claiming she was subjected to bullying. Sinn Féin said no evidence was found to prove her allegations.
The resignations were followed by a number of others.