SINN Fein has been rocked by the resignation of an entire branch organisation in Cork in protest at the treatment of two councillors.
The party’s Fermoy cumman tendered their resignations en masse as fears mounted that the bitter row within the organisation could cripple party hopes of defending their Dail berth in the four-seat constituency next year.
A total of 15 Fermoy cumann members indicated their intention to resign in protest at the treatment of Councillor Kieran McCarthy and Councillor Melissa Mullane.
The formal resignations will be tabled over the next 48 hours unless the party agrees to rescind the disciplinary actions.
Last Monday, Cobh-based Councillor McCarthy was expelled from the party while Mallow-based Councillor Mullane was suspended for a year.
Both politicians have been told they are now expected to resign the Cork Co Council seats they won last year as Sinn Fein candidates.
Sinn Fein hopes to co-opt new members onto the vacated seats.
However, Councillor McCarthy dismissed the notion as “laughable and ridiculous.”
He confirmed he is now considering contesting the next general election as an independent.
But Sinn Fein now face an escalating crisis in Cork East as 15 Fermoy activists signalled their intention to quit the party in solidarity with Councillors McCarthy and Mullane.
Resignations are now also expected in Cobh, Mallow and Mitchelstown.
The Fermoy resignations involve both officers and ordinary members.
In a statement, Fermoy’s SF organisation said the two councillors were hugely respected within the local party.
“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.