The former Kerry Sinn Féin councillor Toiréasa Ferris has said she resigned from the party because it seemed willing to compromise too many of its republican principles in the pursuit of power.
Ms Ferris was expected to be the party’s candidate for the Dáil for Kerry in the 2020 general election but announced in advance of it that she was resigning her council seat and also withdrawing from politics.
In an interview with An Saol ó Dheas on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltactha on Thursday, Ms Ferris also disclosed that she was the subject of constant “nasty and sexist” comments in the media, and from individuals, while a candidate for the Dáil and for European elections for the party.
“Insulting thing were written and said about me and nobody said anything about them,” she said. “I was called a slut, a slapper, one person saying I bought my clothes in Peter Stringfellow’s.
“The thing that put me off most was what was written in one of the Sunday papers about my mother. What would you expect from a child that was never taught right from wrong.”
She said the comments really upset her mother.
Ms Ferris was responding to the announcement by Fine Gael Kerry TD Brendan Griffin that he will not contest the next general election and leave politics at the age of 41.
Now a practising barrister and an academic Ms Ferris outlined a combination of factors behind her decision to leave politics. They included the targeted comments, the time commitments, the impact her political work had on her family life, especially her children, her law career, and her difficulties with the direction in which Sinn Féin was going.
A daughter of former Sinn Féin TD, and convicted IRA gun-runner Martin Ferris, she said that as Sinn Féin expanded, it was changing policy stances in a manner she could not support.
“There were conversations abut the Special Criminal Court and the corporate tax. As time went on, and the likelihood of being in power increased, there were things that were red line issues that were no longer red line issues. That did not sit well with me,” she said.
She said that the first vote Sinn Féin had taken in the current Dáil was to abstain on the Special Criminal Court. She said she would have refused to do so and would “have been thrown out of the parliamentary party”.
Outlining why she resigned form the party she said she did not want to be part of where the party was going.
“I’m a republican and there are many republicans in Sinn Féin. There are many people in Sinn Féin who I don’t think are republican. I think they are nationalists, or socialists.
“I did not want to be part of something I feared would lead to concessions [of principles] in order to attain power. I feel disloyal saying that even though I am friendly with [many people in the party].
“That was the suspicion I had always, how much they would be prepared to cede for power.”
Ms Ferris also said she would not vote for the party any more. “I will vote for the representative who stands for the things that are important to me,” she said.
She said she still thought Sinn Féin was the only party that could improve matters but added: “Will it achieve the country that I would like to see? I do not think so.”