Sinn Féin reviews party structures after raft of departures

Fourteen councillors made allegations of bullying before quitting

 Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Sinn Féin has begun a review of its local authority structures in response to the departure of a number of councillors from the party.

A total of 37 representatives have either vacated their seats or left Sinn Féin in the past 18 months.

Ten left for personal reasons, five were expelled, eight resigned and an additional 14 quit alleging bullying with the organisation.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald has now assigned a senior figure in her team to carry out an examination of the party’s structures and to report back to the ard comhairle.

Ms McDonald had made this commitment as part of her campaign to succeed Gerry Adams as president of Sinn Féin.

It is understood a pilot project was initiated in the Wicklow constituency over recent weeks. Three councillors – John Snell, Oliver O’Brien and Gerry O’Neill – lost the party whip for voting against the party.

They have alleged that unelected “middle management” in the party have exercised undue influence and imposed a group leader, controlled all the officer positions and dictated to them how they should vote on every issue.

It is understood the project involved speaking to those who remained with the party to identify the problems and assess what improvements can be made.

Report

The person tasked with conducting the examination will travel across the country in the coming months and prepare a report for Ms McDonald.

Cllr Paul Hogan from Longford-Westmeath is the latest to resign from the party. He resigned earlier this month citing “an unrelenting bullying campaign”.

Mr Hogan, who had been a general election candidate for the party, said he had raised concerns with the party leadership last December but claimed it failed to respond to his claims.

Sinn Féin is concerned with protecting their own interest and not the interest of victims, Mr Hogan said. In a statement, he added: “The party will attempt to pigeon-hole this hate campaign against me as a localised dispute.

“All of the evidence that I have suggests otherwise. They may even attempt to scapegoat people or label them but the blame for failing to act in a reasonable timeframe, despite repeated requests, and their refusal to uphold the rights of members falls square with the party.”

Cllr Noeleen Reilly also resigned from the party this year following a long-running dispute with Dublin North-West TD Dessie Ellis.