Tuesday 19 March 2019

Sinn Féin TD Ellis breaks ranks on bullying in party

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor

A Sinn Féin TD has criticised his party's leadership for failing to deal with a culture of bullying.

Dublin North West deputy Dessie Ellis broke ranks last night, accusing the party of having "fallen short of the standards we all expect".

Mr Ellis told the Irish Independent there were rules and regulations within Sinn Féin in relation to the use of social media, which members were not adhering to.

"There are standards, rules and regulations in relation to bullying and how people respond on social media when to comes to their party comrades, and any people for that matter," Mr Ellis said.

"The party hasn't lived up to that at this stage. It has fallen short of the standards we all expect," he added.

Mr Ellis made his intervention after the Irish Independent revealed details of a dossier that makes extraordinary allegations about Sinn Féin in Dublin North West.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The dossier details how members have allegedly been subjected to threats and labelled "thugs", "witch" and "ratface".

The alleged threats included: "We know where you live" and "you better stay out of Ballymun", according to the dossier which has been sent to senior party figures.

Mr Ellis is the first Sinn Féin TD to speak out about a bullying culture. It's understood that he has raised his concerns internally with the party leadership.

His claims of bullying practices, particularly on social media, put him at odds with senior Sinn Féin figures such as party president Gerry Adams and leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald.

In a recent interview with the 'Limerick Leader', Mr Adams said he would quit the party if there was a bullying culture.

"There is no culture of bullying in Sinn Féin. We have a zero-tolerance attitude to bullying," Mr Adams said.

Before Christmas, Ms McDonald did accept there were "issues to be addressed" following a number of resignations from the party.

But she denied there was a culture of bullying.

The Dublin Central TD suggested that the growth experienced by the party could be a factor in some of the claims.

"There is a challenge for whoever is leader of Sinn Féin to manage that transition from a smaller party to a larger party. That's not a unique challenge...I'm very anxious we get it right."

But the dossier, which has been sent to Sinn Féin councillors and senior party figures, lays bare one of the most serious disputes that Sinn Féin is now trying to resolve.

It comes after this newspaper last week revealed that Mr Ellis sent a legal letter to Ballymun Tidy Towns over remarks allegedly made about him at the organisation's annual general meeting earlier this month.

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

The veteran TD claims it was alleged at the Tidy Towns meeting that he had a picture hanging in his constituency office of a woman, who is not a Sinn Féin member. The meeting allegedly heard that the face of the person in question had been circled by Mr Ellis alongside a derogatory term.

In his letter, sent through his solicitor 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 allegedly made the allegations.

Dublin North West is one of many constituencies that has seen bullying allegations.

Among the constituencies affected are Limerick, Wicklow, Kildare, Cork East, Tipperary and Westmeath.

Irish Independent

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