Thursday 23 November 2017

Sinn Féin councillor quits amid 'bullying' allegations

Tipperary councillor Seamus Morris has quit Sinn Féin
Tipperary councillor Seamus Morris has quit Sinn Féin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

One of Sinn Féin's most high-profile councillors has quit the party amid claims he and his family were subjected to "unfounded and untruthful allegations".

Tipperary representative Seamus 'Seamie' Morris will now serve as an independent councillor after becoming the latest figure to resign over an alleged bullying culture.

Sinn Féin bosses were not surprised at Mr Morris's announcement as he has repeatedly threatened his resignation in recent weeks.

But the move puts the spotlight back once again on the alleged bullying culture as the party prepares for its Árd Fheis, which is likely to be Gerry Adams's last one as Sinn Féin president.

Mr Morris has been engaged in an internal inquiry process after claiming he was subjected to a smear campaign.

In September, Mr Morris said he had considered taking his own life after he was expelled from his local party branch in Tipperary.

He said then that he was a "victim of an intense nine-month hate campaign of harassment and slander".

He has been one of a number of councillors and former party officials who have acted as confidantes to other members who have considered quitting the party over the alleged bullying culture. A recent meeting of disaffected members took place in Waterford.

In a statement released to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Morris detailed his decision to resign.

"These unaddressed allegations have had a desperate impact on my family and myself over the last number of months," Mr Morris said.

"Due process has not been followed to resolve the situation to a point now, where for the sake of my family and my own health, I am leaving the party."

Mr Morris said he had quit knowing that he had "served Sinn Féin well and leave with my core beliefs of honesty and integrity being fundamental intact".

He added: "It is with regret that I say that I have no faith in the Sinn Féin process of investigation.

"Any further participation in this [investigative process] will be through my own legal counsel."

In a statement, Sinn Féin said Mr Morris's resignation was not a surprise. The party rejected the claims made in his statement.

"Contrary to Councillor Morris's public comments, there was an exhaustive review process put in place at his request," a spokesman said.

"The party found no evidence of a smear campaign against Councillor Morris.

"As part of that process, complaints were made against Councillor Morris regarding his behaviour towards fellow party members in the constituency.

"The party had been looking into these complaints.

"Councillor Morris was due to answer the complaints last week. He sought an extension of time. That was granted and he was due to answer the complaints in writing this evening.

"It seems he has decided to leave the party rather than answer the complaints made against him."

Irish Independent

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