Expelled councillor accuses SF of ‘Spanish inquisition’ system
Party not saying why Cllr Kieran McCarthy expelled and Cllr Melissa Mullane suspended
Sinn Féin’s ard comhairle on Sunday agreed to expel Cork county councillor Kieran McCarthy (above) and suspend Melissa Mullane, also a Cork county councillor. Photograph: Sinn Féin
Cork County Councillor Melissa Mullane has been suspended from Sinn Féin for a period of one year. Photograph: Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is refusing to outline the circumstances which led the party to expel one county councillor and suspend another for one year.
Mr McCarthy, based in Cobh, said he has been provided with no proper explanation for his expulsion and claimed problems arose when he and Ms Mullane expressed an interest in standing at the next general election.
The sitting Sinn Féin TD in their constituency is Cork East’s Sandra McLellan.
Mr McCarthy accused senior figures in Sinn Féin of operating a “Spanish inquisition” style system and attempting a “poor effort at copying the way Fianna Fáil operates”.
“As far as I am concerned, it is Fianna Fáil Mark II,” he said. He said Sinn Féin had initiated a review because of allegations made and rivalries in the constituency, with the local organisation stood down a number of months ago.
He said there had been allegations of loans being misappropriated, but insisted these not been proved.
He had not been given a copy of the constituency review nor provided with an adequate explanation for his expulsion, he said, adding he had been informed of his expulsion in person by a party official.
A party spokesman said the decision followed a review of the Cork East constituency and both Mr McCarthy and Ms Mullane had 21 days to appeal to party’s ard chomhairle decision.
However, the spokesman was not able to say what had led to the disciplinary action.
Sinn Féin’s Cork North Central TD, Jonathan O’Brien confirmed the disciplinary action against the two councillors but refused to be drawn on the background.
“I can’t give the background to it because both members have the right to appeal so it would be unfair to comment on it,” Mr O’Brien told Cork’s 96FM.
“And the fact that it was as a result of recommendations on the back of an internal party review, it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on it.
“But they have the right to appeal so I won’t be commenting on anything in relation to it,” said Mr O’Brien after news emerged of the sanctions at a Cork County Council meeting.
The extensive internal review of the party’s organisation in Cork East, which was chaired by Mr O’Brien, began examining all aspects of the party organisation in the constituency, including cummain structure, in January.
It recommended the expulsion of Cllr McCarthy and the suspension of Cllr Mullane and its recommendations were approved by the party’s Ard Comhairle at the weekend.
However both councillors now have 21 days to appeal the decision to the Ard Comhairle and with a decision on any appeal expected within some three months.
According to informed sources, there have been tensions within the Sinn Féin organisation in East Cork for several months and some six months ago the party closed its office in Cobh.
Ms McLellan has retained her constituency office in her home town of Youghal and while she rents rooms for clinics in Mallow, Fermoy, Cobh and Midleton.
Sinn Féin won ten seats on Cork County Council in last year’s local elections but with the expulsion of Cllr McCarthy and the suspension of Cllr Mullane, the party is down to eight.
Cllr McCarthy in particular is a long-serving member of the party whose involvement in republican politics in East Cork goes back to the 1980s and the time of the hunger strikes.
Cllr Mullane is a more recent recruit to the party but did well to win a seat for the party in the hotly contested Mallow-Kanturk electoral area in the last local elections.
“It’s awkward for the party - nobody likes to lose two councillors but the review panel came up with its recommendations and the Ard Comhairle backed their decision” said one source.
Both Cllr McCarthy and Cllr Mullane had both expressed an interest in running for the party in Cork East in the next general election but the party had deferred any decision on the issue.
The party has already held selection conventions in Cork South West, Cork North West and Cork South Central but had deferred holding any selection convention in Cork East.
According to one source, there have been tensions between various personalities within the party in Cork East for some time in advance of any selection convention.
“It would have taken Kofi Annan himself to sort things out in Cork East the way that things have been developing there over the past year or so,” said the informed source.
“But now with the completion of the review and these sanctions, Sandra McLellan is in a strong position though it’s open to any party member to put their name forward.”