Former Sinn Féin official settles discrimination case against party

Sinn Féin rounds on DUP finance Minister over welfare reform

Sinn Féin has confirmed that a former senior Stormont special advisor who was taking an alleged discrimination action against the party has now settled the case on “amicable” and “confidential” terms. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Sinn Féin has confirmed that a former senior Stormont special advisor who was taking an alleged discrimination action against the party has now settled the case on “amicable” and “confidential” terms. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 19:45

Sinn Féin has confirmed that a former senior Stormont special advisor who was taking an alleged discrimination action against the party has now settled the case on “amicable” and “confidential” terms.

Leo Green, a former IRA hunger striker and Sinn Féin political director at Stormont, had initiated a case against Sinn Féin on the grounds of discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

Mr Green, who spent 53 days on hunger strike in 1980, had been taking his case through the North’s Fair Employment Tribunal and the Industrial Tribunal.

Sinn Féin in a statement said: “We can confirm that the issues between Leo Green and Sinn Féin have been resolved amicably on terms which are confidential to both parties. This matter is now concluded.”

Viewed as one of Sinn Féin’s most senior strategists, Mr 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.

It is very unusual for such internal Sinn Féin party discord to come to the surface which is reflected by the fact that, according to Sinn Féin, Mr Green was the first member to take such a case against the party.

The first rumours of Mr Green’s unhappiness with Sinn Féin came to notice at the party ardfheis in Wexford in February where his absence was noted. It is speculated that one of the reasons for Mr Green’s disaffection from the party was over welfare reform.

It has been reported that Mr Green favoured adopting elements of British government welfare reform after some concessions were wrested from the British government. It is believed, however, that senior party members in the South including Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams over-ruled the compromise on welfare reform, insisting that it must be rejected.

First Minister Peter Robinson and, separately, the DUP Minister of Finance Simon Hamilton in an interview with The Irish Times yesterday, accused Mr Adams of personally blocking Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness from accepting the amended welfare reform package.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said the party’s policy was to reject the welfare proposals. And responding to Mr Hamilton yesterday North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Daithí McKay said the British government was trying to impose “stringent cuts on the most vulnerable in our society through their welfare cuts programme”.

“Rather than running away from the issue Sinn Féin wants to put it at top of the political agenda. Protecting the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable people in our society is the correct thing to do. It should be a priority for everyone in government, not just Sinn Féin,” said Mr McKay.

He added, “If these cuts go ahead hundreds of families will be plunged into financial hardship. Welfare cuts were not part of the programme for government agreed by the Executive. We did not vote for these cuts. But we do have a choice and our choice is to stand with the disabled, the poor and the unemployed against the austerity policies of the British Tory-led government”.