Sinn Féin has been dealt a serious blow in Cork with the announcement by sitting Cork East TD Sandra McLellan that she is not going to stand for the party in the next general election.
In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Ms McLellan confirmed that she had informed the Sinn Féin leadership last Thursday that she was not going to seek a nomination to run in Cork East
“I was asked to reconsider my position on this, which I undertook to do. However, I have decided not to contest the upcoming election for Sinn Féin,” said Ms McLellan in her statement.
“Over the period I have served as a TD, my efforts were consistently and persistently undermined by a small number in the constituency that called themselves members of Sinn Féin.”
Ms McLellan said that she was not prepared to "risk this for another term" and therefore would not be putting her name before the Sinn Fein Cork East selection convention due to be held on Sunday.
"I did everything in my power to provide good representation in both the constituency and Leinster House," said Ms McLellan, who said she will continue to work as TD until the end of the Dáil term.
“It has been an honour to represent the people of Youghal and East Cork as a Sinn Féin TD over the last number of years,” she said, thanking family, friends and many in the p arty who stood by her.
According to Sinn Féin sources, the only other candidate going before Sunday's convention, Cllr Pat Buckley of Midleton, will now be chosen by the party to run in the four seat Cork East constituency.
Ms McLellan became only the second woman TD to win a seat in Cork East and the first Sinn Féin TD since David Kent - brother of 1916 martyr Thomas Kent - held a seat for the party in the 1920s.
The announcement by Ms McLellan follows a period of turmoil for Sinn Féin in Cork East which has been rocked by controversy since the start of the summer amid claim and counter claim.
In June, the party's Ard Chomairle sanctioned the explusion of long serving party member Cllr Kieran McCarthy from Cobh who had won a seat for the party on Cork County Council in 2014.
The party said that it made the decision after a review of party structures in Cork East amid reports that Cllr McCarthy had been highly critical of Ms McLellan’s performance as a TD.
Cllr McCarthy hit back by accusing the party of “stabbing him in the back” and with the support of many ex-Sinn Féin members in Cobh, he is running as an independent candidate in Cork East
Sinn Féin's Ard Chomairle also ordered the suspension of Mallow based Cllr Melissa Mullane for 12 months for "uncomradely behaviour" but she has since been re-admitted to the party.
However, Cllr Mullane’s readmission to the party ignited further controversy with Mitchelstown based Cllr June Murphy announcing her resignation from the party on foot of Cllr Mullane’s return.
Ms McLellan would have faced a serious challenge to hold her seat with Cllr McCarthy vying with her for the republican vote and Cllr Buckley now faces the same challenge to hold the Sinn Féin seat.