“At no time did Sinn Fein contact any of the Councillors…”

An interesting development in Newtownabbey. The BBC reports that an Alliance Party nominated businessman, Brendan Carlin, has been co-opted onto the Borough Council to replace suspended Sinn Féin councillor Briege Meehan. The report, however, fails to mention that Sinn Féin reportedly suspended the councillor from the party following allegations of child abuse – allegations which Briege Meehan denied. It also fails to note that, according to SF, that suspension took place in early 2008 when the allegations were made, although Cllr Meehan continued to attend council meetings until the allegations were made public in January this year. The NewtownAbbey Times reported in March 2010 that “It is understood that Briege Meehan tendered her resignation in writing to the council on March 16, citing “ill health” as the reason.”. The Alliance Party Cllr Tom Campbell adds

“I am aware that this was previously a Sinn Fein seat. However, Mrs Meehan had been suspended by her party a year ago following allegations about her personal life and the party failed to inform the Council. Sinn Fein only contacted the Alliance Party office at Stormont a few hours before the meeting being called to consider a co-option. At that time and even at such a late stage, the party failed to put forward a name for consideration. At no time did Sinn Fein contact any of the Councillors on the Council to see about putting forward a name. No doubt there will be the usual bleating that they have been unfairly dealt with as a party but communication is essential in such matters and in this respect Sinn Fein failed abjectly to get in touch. The different parties on Newtownabbey Borough Council do not have a crystal ball and cannot be expected to anticipate the actions of other parties.”

Adds According to an Irish News report, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said that the party would be “examining our legal options”. Good luck with that one, Gerry…