Former hunger striker and senior Sinn Féin adviser sues party

Leo Green claims political discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness  addressing the Sinn Féin ardfheis earlier this  year. Mr Green was noticeable by his absence from the event

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness addressing the Sinn Féin ardfheis earlier this year. Mr Green was noticeable by his absence from the event

Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 18:42

An ex-IRA hunger striker and formerly one of Sinn Féin’s most senior advisers is taking a discrimination and unfair dismissal case against the party.

Leo Green, who surprisingly left his post as Sinn Féin’s political director at Stormont in February is suing his party on a number of grounds, the North’s Fair Employment Tribunal has confirmed.

Mr Green, who spent 83 days fasting in the 1980 hunger strike, is claiming discrimination for holding a political opinion, unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

He is taking the case through the Fair Employment Tribunal and the Industrial Tribunal. A tribunal spokesman said proceedings were at an early stage and the case is yet to be listed.

A Sinn Féin spokesman also confirmed the claims have been lodged to the tribunals.

“Sinn Féin will be contesting this. I do not want to say anything that will prejudice this case,” he added.

Leo Green was arrested in 1977 and jailed for the murder of an RUC officer, spending more than 17 years in prison.

His “on-the-run” brother John Francis, a senior IRA member, was shot dead by the UVF near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan in 1975.

Leo Green was viewed as one of Sinn Féin’s most senior strategists and advisors. His leaving his political director post and the discrimination case has caused great surprise in political circles.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said Mr Green was the first member to take such a case against the party.

Rumours of some internal discord first came to notice at the Sinn Féin ardfheis in February where Mr Green was noticeable by his absence. As well as leaving his post as director of political affairs at Stormont there was also speculation he had quit the party.

He personally dampened speculation by telling UTV and the BBC that he remained a Sinn Féin member, a fact confirmed at the Wexford ardfheis by the party. A party spokesman said this information was accurate and that Mr Green remains a Sinn Féin member.

It is very seldom that Sinn Féin washes its dirty linen in public and the fact that Mr Green is taking this discrimination case prompted further speculation about internal quarrels within the party.

In February the DUP social development Minister Nelson McCausland noting that he hadn’t seen Mr Green “in the corridors at Stormont for the past few weeks” claimed that “behind that polished façade Sinn Féin is a party in disarray”.

Notwithstanding his paramilitary past Mr Green was described as a Sinn Féin “progressive” at Stormont willing to make pragmatic decisions to keep politics moving forward. His disagreement with Sinn Féin is also being linked to claims by First Minister Peter Robinson last week that Sinn Féin was placing its electoral ambitions in the South ahead of its interests in the North.