Sinn Féin councillor resigns from party in Cork East

As internal tensions continue in constituency, party asks June Murphy to vacate seat

A second councillor has resigned from Sinn Féin in the Cork East constituency as an internal row coninues in the party.

Fermoy based June Murphy on Friday said she had been unwillingly and unavoidably caught up in the bitter party row as she confirmed she was quitting. She said she could not see the situation improving in the foreseeable future.

"I have found my time in the party to be an increasingly negative experience," Ms Murphy, who was elected to Cork County Council in 2014, said in a statement.

Her departure follows that of Cllr Kieran McCarthy, from Cobh, who left the party during the summer. He will contest the general election as an Independent candidate.

In June Mr McCarthy was expelled from the party and Kanturk-based Cllr Melissa Mullane was suspended, following an internal dispute that also involved Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan.

Mr McCarthy was subsequently offered temporary reinstatement but declined it. Ms Mullane has had her suspension lifted.

Earlier this year, Mr McCarthy had said he wished to challenge Ms McLellan to be the party’s general election candidate in Cork East.

Since her election in 2011, opinion within the party at local level has been divided about Ms McLellan’s performance at both national and local level.

An internal Sinn Féin inquiry into the issues behind the rows, chaired by Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien, is understood to have strongly backed Ms McLellan.

In a statement, Sinn Féin asked Ms Murphy to resign her council seat and return it to the party as “she was elected on a Sinn Féin mandate”. It said it was important to note her resignation had nothing to do with any political or policy differences within the party and that Sinn Féin was “ very sorry to see her go” .

While Sinn Féin has consolidated its support base elsewhere in the State, there have been some concerns that the row, in addition to Ms McLellan’s low profile, may pose some difficulties for her re-election efforts.

Ms Murphy’s resignation indicates the internal problems have not been resolved.

A blog from an an anonymous Sinn Féin supporter in the constituency has claimed there is “something rotten” in the party in Cork East.

Using the pen name, Rebel Óg, the blogger wrote during the summer: "The party now stands at a crossroads in East Cork.  If it does not take control of the area and listen to its membership, it is likely that the exodus of existing members will continue, new members will be deterred from getting involved and ultimately this traditional Sinn Fein stronghold will collapse.

“The party’s handling of issues in the area has shown both a lack of understanding and a loss of connection with its membership.  Internal squabbling is certainly nothing new in politics, but shutting down an entire area’s structure is a foolish move.”