Sinn Féin portrayed me as a bully, says Cork councillor Kieran McCarthy
The Sinn Féin councillor at the centre of a bitter internal row has accused the party of portraying him as a "bully".
Cork councillor Kieran McCarthy last night lashed out at Sinn Féin bosses over their decision to expel him from the party and suspend his council colleague Melissa Mullane.
The disciplinary action centres upon a dispute with Cork East TD Sandra McLellan, who claims to have been ostracised by the two councillors and their supporters. Mr McCarthy has been expelled by the party and now intends to run as an independent candidate in the general election.
Ms Mullane has been handed a 12-month suspension and has yet to comment publicly about her intentions.
Both councillors have just over two weeks remaining to appeal their sanctions.
Sinn Féin has declined to comment until a 21-day appeal period is over.
But the row took a fresh twist last night after senior Sinn Féin figures claimed Mr McCarthy was formally warned by the party over his conduct towards Ms McLellan in recent months.
Sources told the Irish Independent that the Cobh-based politician was contacted by party figures over his alleged refusal to invite Ms McLellan to public events.
But last night Mr McCarthy disputed the warning claims and accused the party of trying to damage his reputation.
"All Sinn Féin has been doing is putting out spin all week," Mr McCarthy said. "I was never warned about my treatment of her. They have been putting out propaganda all week...they have been portraying me as a bully and it's not the case."
The controversy surrounding Mr McCarthy's expulsion has damaged Sinn Féin this week and resulted in mass resignations of members from the Cobh and Fermoy branches.
Senior Sinn Féin figures, such as party leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, have been despatched to Cork East in a bid to prevent further resignations.
The Sinn Féin branch in Mallow, where Ms Mullane is based, is due to meet in the coming days with more resignations expected. Sinn Féin said the resignations are not legitimate because the operations in Cork East were stood down pending an internal review.
Mr McCarthy described this claim as "bull", adding: "To say that members cannot step down because of the review is ridiculous, schoolboy stuff."