Three SF councillors at centre of bitter internal row break silence
The three Sinn Féin councillors at the centre of a bitter internal row have all broken their silence over the controversy.
Wicklow councillors John Snell, Oliver O'Brien and Gerry O'Neill insist they will not hand back their seats despite being stripped of the whip by party bosses after a falling-out with local TD John Brady.
The Irish Independent revealed on Saturday that the party's over-arching body, the Ard Chomhairle, rejected an appeal by the three councillors against the decision to withdraw the whip.
The councillors were also represented at a recent hearing in north Dublin by human rights activist and former party member Tara Reynor-O'Grady.
Ms Reynor-O'Grady, the mother of Hollywood actor Jack Reynor, has been told that her party membership will not be renewed.
Following months of remaining silent on the row, all three councillors have provided statements to the Irish Independent.
Mr Snell - who is understood to be considering challenging Mr Brady at the next general election - said he has yet to receive formal confirmation that he has been ejected from the party.
"I served with John Brady since 2009 to 2016, dealing with a wide variety of issues on behalf of the county without any interference from national politicians, but since the last general election I have noticed a vast change in the meddling of the role of county councillors in Wicklow," Mr Snell said.
Mr O'Neill accused Sinn Féin of favouring "robots over human beings" in the council chamber.
He added: "On the issue of toeing the party line and obeying the county leadership, [it] is almost unbearable at times, with no leeway allowed."
Mr O'Brien said he is "quite angry" about the way the process has been handled.
Last week, Sinn Féin said the three councillors have refused to take direction from the party.