Fermanagh Councillor resigns from Sinn Féin

Fermanagh District Councillor Bernice Swift has resigned from Sinn Féin and intends to remain on the council as an independent. She told David Dunseith on Talkback that it wasn’t as a result of her views on policing per se, although she did refer to the party supporting a “corrupt and failed British policing model”, but due to her “unconstitutional suspension” and that, in comparison with Strabane Sinn Féin councillors who were not sanctioned, she had been “treated differently” and that there was a “discriminatory element” in that treatment. Fermanagh Sinn Féin Councillor Domhnall O’Cobhtaigh, speaking on the programme, called on Bernice Swift to resign her council seat claiming that the people had elected Sinn Féin candidates.. Bernice Swift responded by pointing out that Mr O’Cobhtaigh had been co-opted onto the council.. From the Fermanagh Herald report Adds Brief BBC report.

“I considered my position within Sinn Féin at the time”, she went on, ” but, in light of the appeal by Gerry Adams and others for unity and for those who were opposed to involvement with British policing to remain within the Party, I believed there was still a place for divergent opinion. “I argued rationally on a point of principle with the aim of representing fully the sentiments of my electorate in delivering on a shared Republican vision. She went on: “Unfair as my suspension has been, the ensuing disciplinary processes to which I was subjected breached natural justice and Sinn Féin’s own rules and procedures. “When considering the detail of the complaint made against me, there is an interesting contrast with the five male Sinn Féin Councillors in Strabane who publicly refused to sit on the DPP. “My five colleagues went unsanctioned by the Party and were quickly welcomed back into Sinn Féin structures”.

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  • Another loose cannon on Fermanagh DC, just before next Monday’s vote on whether (or not) to co-opt someone to replace Joe Dodds!

    While SF won’t be pleased with Swift’s resignation, the DUP are probably even more worried. She’s hardly a fan of theirs, and her single vote could ensure a byelection for Dodds seat, and another Dromore-style crisis for the DUP.

  • truth

    Fair play to Bernice Swift on standing up for her rights and resigning from Sinn Fein its quite clear she has been very badly treated within the party. The issue of the five cllrs from strabane is the proof that Bernice Swift was treated unfairly and singled out. And as for this so called Councillor Domhnall O’Cobhtaigh what a joke that title should be removed from him he certainly hasnt earned in. I heard his interview on talk back and i think Hypocrisy is the word that rings out, this man hasnt been endorsed by the local Republicans never mind the Electorate of west fermanagh. How can he talk about democracy and elected representives when he crawled in through the back door of politics.

  • who_shot_me_chihuahua?

    dont know the ins and outs of fermanagh republicanism, but it possibly be because she was on her own? One cllr out of line would be easy enough to sidleine, but 5? Cant really see it backfiring on sf that much though

  • UFB

    Can’t seem to recall SF asking Billy Lenord to resign his council seat and fight a by election when he jumped ship.

  • Fermanagh DUP Voter

    “the DUP are probably even more worried. She’s hardly a fan of theirs, and her single vote could ensure a byelection for Dodds seat, and another Dromore-style crisis for the DUP.”

    Doubt it, she was at Cllr Dodds’ funeral as a representative of fermanagh dc.

  • Bigger Picture

    Horseman

    Why are you so keen on a by-election that is so obviously in bad taste?

  • none the wiser

    Who is Bernice

  • Fermanagh DUP Voter,

    And do you seriously think that her feelings for the DUP are anything other than totally hostile?

    Attendance at funerals, in most civilised countries (or parts thereof), is divorced from other issues. People go to funerals out of solidarity as a human being with the bereaved family, not out of support for the deceased persons politics!

    Bigger Picture

    An election is an election. The cause of it is irrelevant, and personally, I don’t really think that death should give your party a free kick. Nor do you, I suspect – think back to, for example, 1981 in the same area!

  • countess marchieviez

    would just like to wish bernice all the best…. she has been through hell and back over the last 8 months, it wasnt an easy decison to make.
    she is an extremely hard working councillor, who puts her community first pity there wasnt more like her!

    keep er lit!!!

  • Bigger Picture

    Horseman

    Thank you for your response. Your feelings for the DUP shine through any solidairty you have among human beings and clearly you, as someone from Fermanagh, are simply using it as an opportunity to take advantage and profiteer from somebody’s death. Ironic given your above comment to F DUP Voter.

    Since I wasn’t born in 1981 I’ll not answer the politics of the area as I am not a local. Needless to say I think a different political climate operated then as to now.

    Anyway I’ll have a bet with you now that there will be no election. Inside info and all that 😉

  • Mark McGregor

    All the best to Bernice who is reknowned for her hard work and dedication both within the council and beyond.

  • Bigger Picture,

    Your feelings for the DUP shine through any solidairty you have among human beings …

    My own feelings for the DUP are entirely hostile.

    … and clearly you, as someone from Fermanagh, are simply using it as an opportunity to take advantage and profiteer from somebody’s death. Ironic given your above comment to F DUP Voter.

    I am not standing for any election in Fermanagh or elsewhere, so I cannot ‘profit’ from Dodds death, or anyone else’s. I would see it as entirely correct for a byelection to be held, and fought by anyone interested.

    Since I wasn’t born in 1981 I’ll not answer the politics of the area as I am not a local.

    The events of that era and in that area are very well known even to people who were not born then. The point I am making is that the unionist parties did their utmost, following Sands death, to take the seat back. They showed no ‘respect’ for the dead man, or his party (though he didn’t actually stand for one).

    Needless to say I think a different political climate operated then as to now.

    Debatable.

    Anyway I’ll have a bet with you now that there will be no election. Inside info and all that 😉

    Interesting. Though it only takes one councillor to object to the co-option to force a byelection. And there are lots of parties that might wish to embarrass the DUP. Your ‘insider info’ presumably comes from only one of them. What about the others, and McHugh and Swift?

  • Bigger Picture

    Who says it is from any party in Fermanagh District Council?

    “The point I am making is that the unionist parties did their utmost, following Sands death, to take the seat back. They showed no ‘respect’ for the dead man, or his party (though he didn’t actually stand for one).

    Needless to say I think a different political climate operated then as to now.

    Debatable.”

    Bobby Sands committed suicide in order to forward his republcian agenda therefore to respect his seat and his death would really have been about ensuring that he won the argument in the end. In other words he made his death political, Cllr Joe Dodds did not.

    “I am not standing for any election in Fermanagh or elsewhere, so I cannot ‘profit’ from Dodds death, or anyone else’s.”

    So you sit here and pontificate and let others pick up the shit. So your part in the troubles would have involved licking the envelopes of the death threats going out to the peelers then would it??

  • Bigger Picture

    Who says it is from any party in Fermanagh District Council?

    Well, the only other ‘player’ would be the
    Department of the Environment, who could change the rules. However, since they haven’t done it yet, it may be too late. I know Sammy Wilson mentioned the possibility of legislating for automatic co-options, but so far nothing has happened on that front. But I guess that’s where you are ‘inside’, so I’ll await developments with interest.

    We disagree on Bobby Sands, and the rest of your post is unnecessarily ad hominem so I’ll ignore it.

  • Bigger Picture

    “Well, the only other ‘player’ would be the
    Department of the Environment, who could change the rules.”

    You’ve gone completely cold. Legislation would never be in place for anything like that.

    I never expected you to agree with me on Bobby Sands but I do not think that anyone would compare the situation at the death of these two politicians to be similar. That was my point

  • Bigger Picture

    You’ve gone completely cold.

    Don’t be coy. If you think that there are any other ‘players’ involved in this, let us know. AFAIK the legislation is quite clear on this – the council must organise a byelection unless the councillors vote unanimously to co-opt someone. The only alternative is to change the legislation, and I agree that time would probably not allow that. So what else could block a byelection? You imply that your ‘insider info’ does not come from the parties (or idependents?) represented on the council. Am I missing something obvious?

  • truth

    I think that people should stick to the story in hand. This is the Third Cllr to resign in Fermanagh within 12 to 18 months, Is there some problem within the Sinn Fein structures in Fermanagh that these issues couldnt have been resovled locally? The Sinn Fein leadership should have stepped in and sorted this out long ago but it sounds like they were part of the cover up and collusion and were prepared to shaft Bernice for whatever reasons, once again Sinn Fein have let the people down. They are absolutly mad to be loosing very Talented people from the party like Bernice im sure there are plenty of other partys who would snap her up in a minute.,

    Sinn Fein the party for INEQUALITY?

  • Clonakilty

    Horseman

    Wind your neck in. Enniskillen and Drmore are 2 very different places. Politics has moved on from the time of the Dromore election (i.e. Junior is out of government and Paisley is no longer the DUP leader for a start), and in Enniskillen a by-election will mean a strong chance of a nationalist gain – if the Ulster Unionists want to force that situation, let them do so.

    One other thing Horsey, the UUP vote actually fell in Dromore.

  • manus1916

    fair play to bernice i’m sure this was a hard decision for her she has been in the party 27 years a real leading light and extremely popular in the community and republican family but rest asure in the end she made the right decision…..

    in sinn fein thinking for your self isn’t popular with the leadership so hats off to you for standing your ground as an honest hard working republican.

    one thing is for sure she’ll be a credit to our people were ever she decides to go from here. i wish her all the best

    she should keep the seat she’ll be the only one in that council doing it justice from a republican veiwpoint.

    “up the rebels!”;)

  • dublinsfsupporter

    Had anyone heard of her? That she clearly went along with the party leadership’s historic moves in recent years makes complaining now about the leadership ring hollow. Possibly was passed over for a committee place on her local council.

  • Quagmire

    Don’t really know her reasons for leaving, but wish her all the best anyway. Its unfortunate that it couldn’t be worked out within the party whatever it was. But contrary to what some have suggested here, just because she has left the party doesn’t make her any less Republican in her politics!! So I wouldn’t count on a friendly ally if I were you Fear manach DUP voter!!

  • Mark McGregor

    DublinSFsupporter,

    “Had anyone heard of her?”

    I assume you aren’t an actual SF member? She had a pretty decent profile within SF and was well respected for many decades of Republican activism. She was appointed along with Conor Murphy as your party’s representative on the European Committee of the Regions. Possibly one of your most high profile non-dual mandate Councillors you have.

    Or is this just an attempt to downplay Bernice’s contribution now she has left?

  • The Raven

    “That she clearly went along with the party leadership’s historic moves in recent years makes complaining now about the leadership ring hollow.”

    Ok, NOT coming from Fermanagh, and NOT being a SF supporter, I can only speak from limited knowledge. In light of my own personal experience of DPPs, Bernice should have been applauded for her stance.

    I’m sure there may be more to it, but frankly, I’m glad someone has spoken out about them – shame it had to cost her so dearly. The truth must really hurt….

  • true rebel

    Mark McGregor,

    As someone who has disagreed with you in the past for supporting the S/F leadership I applaud your respectful comments about Bernice.

    To the would be little Hitler Domhnall O’Cobhtaigh
    May I say that you are regarded as a muppet throughout Fermanagh and wider fields.
    Unelected useless little hangers on like yourself are an embarrassment to any political party and the scourge of Republican politics.

    It is with great sadness that I and many others have witnessed the demise of republicans with principles and intellect only to be replaced with thick unprincipled gutter-snipes whos only claim to republicanism is the never ending snide remarks, whisper campaigns and whole scale spying on long standing republicans who seek the truth about very shadey deals.

    You sir are not fit to hold Bernice’s ballot paper let alone her seat.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Fair play to her for resigning on a point of principle. All is clearly not well in the SF ranks.

  • fenian bastard

    Horseman,

    seriously good posts