SINN FÉIN MEM­BERS DI­VIDED OVER CATHAOIR­LEACH VOTE

Bray People - - NEWS - BY DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

THERE was a sur­prise split in the Sinn Féin camp within the Wick­low County Coun­cil cham­ber on Mon­day as half of the party’s mem­bers ab­stained from vot­ing for a party col­league.

Fol­low­ing the nom­i­na­tion of Cllr Michael O’Con­nor for the po­si­tion of Cathaoir­leach by Cllr Ni­cola Law­less and Cllr Mary McDon­ald, Coun­cil­lors John Snell, Gerry O’Neill and Oliver O’Brien ab­stained.

Coun­cil­lors O’Brien and Snell also ab­stained from vot­ing for Cllr Law­less for the po­si­tion of Leas- Chathaoir­leach while Cllr O’Neill was not present for that vote.

Sources say the very pub­lic di­vide is a protest against what lo­cal coun­cil­lors be­lieve is a lack of con­sul­ta­tion from Sinn Fein head­quar­ters with those at grass roots level and ef­forts from ‘out­side Wick­low’ to con­trol the party work­ings within the county.

It ap­pears that half of the coun­cil­lors ac­cepted the party’s de­ci­sion to nom­i­nate Cllr O’Con­nor and half did not. There is also a sig­nif­i­cant level of un­rest amongst mem­bers over the party’s de­ci­sion to ap­point Cllr Ni­cola Law­less as group leader fol­low­ing the elec­tion of John Brady to Dáil Éire­ann.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Cllr John Snell told The Wick­low Peo­ple that his de­ci­sion to ab­stain from vot­ing was ‘noth­ing per­sonal’ to­wards Cllr O’Con­nor. ‘I take the busi­ness of Wick­low County Coun­cil very se­ri­ously and I be­lieve the po­si­tion of Cathaoir­leach re­quires a huge amount of ex­pe­ri­ence. I could not vote for any­body who has not been through the elec­tion process and who has not been cho­sen by the peo­ple and who is only here a mat­ter of weeks,’ he said.

Cllr O’Neill told this news­pa­per that while he is ‘ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted’ to Sinn Féin, Mon­day was not the first time that mem­bers have gone against party direc­tions.

‘In­deed at the last coun­cil meet­ing fol­low­ing a di­rec­tive from the party to sup­port the place­ment of the new chil­drens hospi­tal in St. James’s, five of the six coun­cil­lors voted against it,’ he said.

‘I un­der­stand we are an evolv­ing party and maybe it’s a case of the party been un­suit­able for some.’

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Cllr O’Con­nor said that the nom­i­na­tions were agreed at a Sinn Féin meet­ing prior to the AGM and the re­sults were emailed to any mem­bers who were not present.

He said that he was not dis­ap­pointed by the out­come of the vote but would have ex­pected the sup­port of his own party mem­bers. De­scrib­ing the mat­ter ‘as an in­ter­nal party is­sue’, Cllr O’Con­nor said that he ex­pects the six coun­cil­lors will con­tinue to work well to­gether.

Cllr Mary McDon­ald said that she was not aware prior to the AGM that vot­ing would go in this man­ner but said that it is ‘ busi­ness as usual’.

‘ Th­ese things hap­pen in pol­i­tics. We still have to work to­gether and do what the peo­ple put us here to do,’ she said.

Cllr Ni­cola Law­less de­clined to com­ment and ef­forts to con­tact Cllr O’Brien were un­suc­cess­ful.

A spokesper­son for Sinn Féin de­clined to com­ment on sug­ges­tions that the three mem­bers who ab­stained will be dis­ci­plined but said that ‘at this stage, we want to as­cer­tain why th­ese coun­cil­lors failed to sup­port the party’s nom­i­na­tion’.

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