THE ONCE LOYAL FOL­LOW­ERS WHO HAVE FALLEN OUT WITH SINN FEIN

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Analysis -

SORCHA O’Neill is one of a num­ber of once loyal elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and mem­bers who have fallen out with Sinn Fein in re­cent years.

Some have quit the party, oth­ers have been ex­pelled, and some re­main in Sinn Fein but have crit­i­cised the party pub­licly. Some have claimed they were bul­lied, some they were mis­treated. Sinn Fein has re­peat­edly in­sisted that bul­ly­ing isn’t tol­er­ated in the party. Sinn Fein has also said that lo­cal dis­putes arise but it’s not al­ways pos­si­ble to re­solve them, as demon­strated by our list of those who have had is­sues with the party.

Sorcha O’Neill was a coun­cil­lor in Kil­dare. She re­signed from Sinn Fein in April, claim­ing she ex­pe­ri­enced “bul­ly­ing, hos­til­ity and ag­gres­sion”.

An­other of the peo­ple on our list, Melissa O’Neill, or­gan­ised a meet­ing in Water­ford last week­end for dis­af­fected mem­bers and for­mer mem­bers of the party.

More meet­ings are ex­pected to be held in the com­ing weeks.

O’Neill, a coun­cil­lor in Kilkenny, was ex­pelled from Sinn Fein last year, af­ter a dis­ci­plinary process over video footage that emerged of a public ar­gu­ment. She al­leges she had been bul­lied prior to the video and is con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion against the party.

Oth­ers to have fallen out with Sinn Fein in­clude:

Lisa Marie Sheehy, coun­cil­lor in Lim­er­ick. She re­signed from Sinn Fein in Septem­ber, claim­ing she had been “un­der­mined, bul­lied and hu­mil­i­ated”;

Gerry O’Neill, coun­cil­lor in Wick­low, was ex­pelled from Sinn Fein in Septem­ber. He is one of three coun­cil­lors who chal­lenged the party in a dis­pute over in­ter­nal lead­er­ship roles. He has ac­cused “un­elected” party fig­ures of un­due in­flu­ence and con­trol;

John Snell, coun­cil­lor in Wick­low. He was ex­pelled from Sinn Fein in Septem­ber, and is an­other of the Wick­low trio who chal­lenged the party about in­ter­nal lead­er­ship roles;

Oliver O’Brien, coun­cil­lor in Wick­low. Ex­pelled from Sinn Fein in Septem­ber, he is the third of the Wick­low coun­cil­lors to chal­lenge Sinn Fein’s in­ter­nal lead­er­ship roles;

Tara O’Grady, hu­man rights ac­tivist and Sinn Fein mem­ber. Ex­pelled from the party in July. She be­lieves it was be­cause she as­sisted the three Wick­low coun­cil­lors by ac­com­pa­ny­ing them to meet­ings with Sinn Fein;

Eu­gene Greenan, for­mer coun­cil­lor in Ca­van. Re­signed from his Sinn Fein coun­cil seat in June, but re­mains a party mem­ber. Al­though he left in part for per­sonal rea­sons, he later ac­cused Sinn Fein of hav­ing an “el­e­ment of dic­ta­tor­ship” and of “act­ing like bul­lies”;

Paul Ho­gan, coun­cil­lor in West­meath. Al­though he re­mains a Sinn Fein coun­cil­lor, he claimed in June that he was “bul­lied”, “threat­ened” and sub­jected to a “whis­per­ing cam­paign” by el­e­ments in the party;

Sea­mus Mor­ris, coun­cil­lor in Tip­per­ary. An at­tempt to ex­pel him from the lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion ear­lier this year failed, and he re­mains a Sinn Fein coun­cil­lor. He claimed last month that he was sub­jected to a nine-month cam­paign of ha­rass­ment and slan­der, and con­sid­ered tak­ing his own life;

San­dra McLel­lan, for­mer Sinn Fein TD for Cork East. She de­clined to run in the 2016 gen­eral elec­tion and claimed there had been at­tempts to “un­der­mine and ma­lign” her within the party;

Ger Keo­hane, coun­cil­lor in Cork East. Re­signed from Sinn Fein in Novem­ber 2015, and al­though he has not spo­ken pub­licly, it is be­lieved he was un­happy with the party;

June Mur­phy, coun­cil­lor in Cork East. Re­signed from Sinn Fein in 2015, but did not speak pub­licly about her rea­sons un­til last month, claim­ing there is a “bul­ly­ing cul­ture” in Sinn Fein and that the party de­means women;

Kieran McCarthy, coun­cil­lor in Cork East, Ex­pelled from Sinn Fein in June 2015, af­ter an in­ter­nal in­quiry ac­cused him of “un­com­radely” be­hav­iour, which he de­nied. His ex­pul­sion was later lifted but he re­fused to re­turn to the party;

Jonathan Dow­dall, for­mer coun­cil­lor in Dublin. Re­signed in 2014 for health rea­sons but he also claimed there was a “whis­per­ing cam­paign” and of “bul­ly­ing” within the party. He has since been jailed for a false im­pris­on­ment and threats. — MAEVE SHEE­HAN

OUT OF THE PARTY: (from left) Melissa O’Neill, John Snell and Lisa Marie Sheehy have left SF

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