Monday 19 March 2018

'There was an incident at bar but I didn't see it' - councillor says of night ex-colleague claims she was assaulted by woman close to TD

Sinn Féin councillor Malachy Quinn
Sinn Féin councillor Malachy Quinn

Wayne O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

A Sinn Féin councillor confirmed there was "an incident" at a GAA club bar on the night a former party colleague claims she was assaulted by a woman close to TD Dessie Ellis.

Fingal county councillor Malachy Quinn said an incident happened when he was attending a social event at the Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club in Cabra but he did not witness it.

The dispute in Dublin North-West has seen Noeleen Reilly quit the party, and Mr Ellis censured for public comments he made suggesting she was not fit to serve in Sinn Féin.

Mr Quinn told the Irish Independent that on the night in question he became aware of a row when he saw people leaving the bar in the immediate aftermath of "an incident".

Noeleen Reilly
Noeleen Reilly

He said: "I was there and I was made aware that an incident had happened but I wasn't in the vicinity of the area when it happened. I was in a room where an incident occurred but that's it."

He added there were 150 to 200 people in the room at the time. It was only later he found out that it involved two women after he was told by a third party.

"I saw everybody leaving and walking out. I asked [someone] what happened and he said: 'There was an incident between two girls.'

"I didn't witness the incident myself, I didn't see it first hand but I am aware something happened. I was in a room but there was roughly 150 to 200 people in the room and an incident happened. I found out the following day or days afterwards who it was."

In her written account of the events at the Naomh Fionnbarra GAA club bar on the night of March 23, 2016, Ms Reilly named Mr Quinn as being among those who were present.

The controversy has cast a shadow over Mary Lou McDonald ahead of her inauguration as party president on Saturday.

Mr Quinn said he did not report the incident to gardaí or party officials. He said he was not aware if anyone else attending the bar on the night in question reported the alleged assault.

"I couldn't because it was not my place to because I didn't see anything. I was in the company of two lay people discussing the Dublin football team," he said.

Ms Reilly was suspended from Sinn Féin on Saturday over bullying allegations made against her and she quit the party this week.

On Sunday she released a series of images showing injuries she claims were sustained during the alleged assault.

Sinn Féin has insisted that Ms Reilly was "advised at all times over the last two years that any alleged assault should be reported to gardaí".

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section