Sinn Féin expels three members from party following Wicklow council dispute
Sinn Féin has has expelled three members in a Wicklow council dispute - as one of the councillors has claimed he first heard of his expulsion when he was contacted by the media.
Councillor Gerry O'Neill, who has served the party since 1971, said he along with fellow councillors John Snell and Oliver O'Brien had previously lost the party whip.
He said the three councillors were "shocked" at the announcement.
Mr O'Neill said the first he heard of it was when RTE contacted him for comment.
The move follows a dispute over the appointment of Councillor Nicola Lawless as the party's group leader on Wicklow County Council, RTE reports.
Cllr O'Neill told the national broadcaster that the move was part of a wider bid by the party to control councillors and make them "nodding dogs."
The party said in a statement today that it had tried for 18 months to resolve the dispute in the council.
"A resolution has not been possible and the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle has moved to expel from the party three councillors who have failed to attend council team meetings over the past 18 months," the statement read.
"Sinn Féin is moving on from this dispute and the Council team will continue to deliver for the people of Wicklow."