Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh resigns from Sinn Féin
Galway West representative cites inaction on his complaints about disciplinary matters
Part of Trevor Ó Clochartaigh’s difficulties lie with the imminent selection convention for Galway West which he claims has a “pre-determined outcome”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A high-profile Galway Senator has become the latest public representative to resign from Sinn Féin amid allegations of unacceptable behaviour and bullying.
In an unexpected move Thursday evening that blindsided the party, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh appeared on the plinth of Leinster House to announce he was leaving the party with immediate effect.
He cited inaction by the party to his complaints on disciplinary matters as well as “serous concerns over the future of the party in the constituency”.
Shortly afterwards, Sinn Féin issued a statement contending the resignation was motivated by his fears he would not win the party’s Galway West selection convention which is being held on Sunday.
The party claimed that, until Wednesday, Mr Ó Clochartaigh had been making a case for a two-candidate strategy.
“Given the party didn’t make the quota or elected a TD in the last election we were going with a one candidate strategy on this occasion.
“It is clear that Trevor was worried that a democratic vote of party members in the constituency would not select him to contest the election.”
He was facing a significant challenge at the convention from Galway City based councillor Mairéad Farrell. She is a niece of the IRA member of the same name shot dead in Gibraltar in 1988.
From Carna in Connemara, Mr Ó Clochartaigh (49) has been a Senator since 2011 and has also stood twice for the party in general elections in Galway West.
He got 5,755 votes in the 2016 general election, finishing fourth in the first count. However, he failed to win a seat after picking up insufficient transfers in subsequent counts.
Setting out his reasons on Thursday, Mr Ó Clochartaigh told The Irish Times that improper behaviour was the primary reason, and the forthcoming convention was peripheral.
“We have had serous breaches of the Sinn Féin code of conduct in Galway West going unpunished and unacceptable behaviour against me and a number of other members locally, from a small number of ruthless, unscrupulous and ambitious individuals going back a number of years now.”
He said he had taken the complaints to the highest level of the party, including Gerry Adams, but having exhausted the avenues, said he had no option but to leave.
Mr Ó Clochartaigh’s base is in Carna in the Connemara Gaeltacht. A senator since 2011, Mr Ó Clochartaigh was formerly a television director, having worked for TG4 on Ros na Rún and for RTÉ on Fair City.
He is one of among over 15 Sinn Féin representatives to have departed the party in recent years amid claims of intimidation, bullying and direction by diktat. The party has strenuously denied any claims of a bullying culture within the party.