Saturday 23 March 2019

Sinn Féin politicians in legal row over remarks at Tidy Towns meeting

Dessie Ellis: solicitor’s letter. Photo: Tom Burke
Dessie Ellis: solicitor’s letter. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor

A local Tidy Towns organisation has been dragged into a bitter dispute between two Sinn Féin politicians, the Irish Independent has learned.

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis has sent a legal letter to Ballymun Tidy Towns over remarks allegedly made about him at the organisation's annual general meeting (AGM) earlier this month.

Mr Ellis claims that a completely false allegation was made against him at the meeting by a male party colleague, who is a supporter of Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly.

Well-placed Sinn Féin sources have confirmed that Mr Ellis and Ms Reilly have been involved in a long-running dispute in the constituency and this has been referred to senior party bosses.

Mr Ellis claims it was alleged at the meeting that he has a picture hanging in his constituency office of another party member.

The meeting allegedly heard that the face of the person in question has been circled by Mr Ellis, alongside a derogatory term.

In his letter, sent through his solicitors earlier this month, Mr Ellis completely rejects the allegation and has warned the committee that it must not be repeated.

The Dublin North West deputy has also asked Sinn Féin to sanction the individual who he claims made the allegations at the meeting.

A party source last night insisted that Mr Ellis was not seeking any redress from the Tidy Towns but merely did not want the false allegation to be repeated at future meetings.

It is understood that the Tidy Towns group has yet to respond to the TD.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, the chairman of the local Tidy Towns, Robert Murphy, said: "I have absolutely no comment to make."

Both Mr Ellis and Ms Reilly declined to comment.

However, sources said both politicians had grievances with each other and wanted the party hierarchy to address the dispute once and for all.

It is expected that the matter will be sent to Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney for consideration.

The party's press office confirmed that it is examining the allegations and differences between party politicians in Ballymun.

In a statement, a spokesman told this newspaper: "Sinn Féin is aware of the difficulties in the constituency and is continuing to work to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion."

There is growing pressure on soon-to-be leader Mary Lou McDonald to address the bullying crisis within Sinn Féin.

Irish Independent

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