Sunday 17 December 2017

Sinn Féin 'is in turmoil and needs a radical shake-up of management': councillor

Unhappy: Sinn Féin County Councillor Paul Hogan
Unhappy: Sinn Féin County Councillor Paul Hogan

Eoghan MacConnell

A Sinn Féin councillor claims there is "widespread turmoil" within the party and a "radical shake-up" of middle management is needed.

Last week, Westmeath County Councillor Paul Hogan alleged he had been the victim of a whispering campaign, hate mail and subjected to a kangaroo court in 2015.

He also claimed "vile allegations" had been made against him and bullying was rife in Sinn Féin. In response last week, the party stated that "Sinn Féin's national investigations committee has dealt with the complaints made by Councillor Hogan".

It said: "Previously the party had received complaints about Councillor Hogan which were not upheld and Councillor Hogan was exonerated".

"Since then, the party has done all in its power to heal the rifts within the constituency and the majority of members are continuing the work of the party with Councillor Hogan," the statement continued.

This is denied by Mr Hogan, who said: "Since my exoneration, the party has done all in its power to isolate and marginalise any structure of the organisation which supported my candidature. They have also isolated and marginalised any individual who supported my candidature."

Sinn Féin denied failing to support Mr Hogan in his Longford-Westmeath general election bid and said: "In fact, the party president Gerry Adams was in the constituency canvassing with Councillor Hogan during the campaign."

The party insisted it takes complaints "extremely seriously" and said: "We are not involved in kangaroo courts and we reject this allegation in the strongest terms."

Sinn Féin further added that "death threats and hate mail are a matter for An Garda Síochána and the party has told Councillor Hogan this".

Mr Hogan insisted his complaint was not investigated by the party's national complaints committee. Last March, he said he was informed by the committee chairperson that the complaint was too wide-ranging to be investigated.

In relation to the general election, Mr Hogan said: "I also stand over my assertion that I received little or no support from Sinn Féin. In fact, from November 2015, all resources were withdrawn from Longford-Westmeath. The paid organiser for the constituency officially withdrew in November and was not replaced for some months after the election.

"My publications, including introductory canvass cards and posters, were withheld for weeks and months respectively.

"On October 16, 2015, I was subjected to a kangaroo court, where the verdict was decided in advance of the meeting. I had no right to reply," the former mayor of Athlone said.

"I am calling for major reform on how the party deals with complaints. Many members and former members of the party have contacted me in the last number of days. There is widespread turmoil within the party and there needs to be a radical shake-up of middle management."

Sinn Féin declined to respond to Mr Hogan's latest statement when contacted.

Irish Independent

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