Sunday 22 April 2018

Second blow to Sinn Féin as councillor resigns over discipline

Gabe Cronnelly
Gabe Cronnelly
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Sinn Féin has insisted it will not carry out a review of the party after it was dealt a further blow with the resignation of yet another councillor.

Galway Councillor Gabe Cronnelly announced he was resigning from the party yesterday, just hours before it held a selection convention for the Galway West constituency.

In a statement, he said he was resigning "due to ongoing unrest around the way the party is dealing with unethical behaviour".

His resignation comes just days after that of fellow Galway politician and high-profile Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who left due to inaction on disciplinary issues.

Mairéad Farrell, nominated as a candidate for the Galway West constituency, with retired Sinn Féin politician Pat Doherty at the Harbour Hotel yesterday. Photo: Andrew Downes
Mairéad Farrell, nominated as a candidate for the Galway West constituency, with retired Sinn Féin politician Pat Doherty at the Harbour Hotel yesterday. Photo: Andrew Downes

However, despite the loss of two politicians in quick succession in the past week, Sinn Féin's hierarchy insisted there were no issues that needed to be addressed within the party.

Former vice-president of the party Pat Doherty told the Irish Independent the resignations had caused "a difficult week in the constituency".

"It was difficult and surprising. But this convention was open. Trevor knew about the date and the process and decided not to stand."

Asked about the discipline problems and unacceptable behaviour within the party raised by Mr O Clochartaigh and Mr Cronnelly, Mr Doherty said a review had been carried out.

"I think the party tries to deal with these issues as they arise. The issues here were dealt with by a review and everybody accepted it and I was there when it was said that they accepted the outcome of the review," he said.

He insisted there would be no further review of the issues, saying the party was "moving on now".

Cllr Mairéad Farrell, who was chosen to stand in the Galway West constituency, echoed his comments. She was the only nominee before the convention.

"A review took place in Galway at the time when Trevor raised concerns and, in my opinion, and in the broader membership as you saw here today, we feel that those issues were dealt with," she said.

However, not everyone was in agreement. Mr O Clochartaigh's wife Mali attended the convention yesterday where she also resigned from the party.

"I wanted to attend here because I had been receiving very upsetting emails from head office informing me of why my husband left the party. I had an email telling me the reason my husband stepped down was he was afraid of running in the selection committee. There are many emails, minutes from meetings, and letters to prove there are ongoing problems that my husband has been raising, and others in the party locally, for the last two years," she said.

"I know there is a serious problem with the way Sinn Féin deals with issues in a local level in many areas in the country and I think it's to its own detriment that it doesn't deal with it."

Announcing his resignation, Mr Cronnelly, an Athenry councillor, raised concerns about "a small group of individuals who are putting themselves first" in the party.

He said the move was not linked to the party's selection convention, adding the Sinn Féin leadership had known about the problems for a long time.

Irish Independent

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