“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…

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  • jtwo

    This failure to mention the child abuse allegations will doubtless be for the the legal and ethical reasons rehearsed here ad nauseam

  • Cynic2

    Amazing… perhaps SF are giving up or was Gerry off that day so there was no-one to tell them what to do?

  • Mark McGregor

    Given in the Consultation on Filling Casual on District Councils to which Alliance responded it was noted:

    17. Overall, there was unanimous support for replacement by party nomination or substitution.

    Alliance can be credibly be accused of hypocrisy.

  • Cynic2

    I must admit the subtlety of this one had passed me by at fist. SF have shot themselves in the foot.

  • “Shot themselves in the foot”, Cynic2? Now when did they ever shoot someone in the foot?

  • Cynic2

    When they were too drunk to aim straight

    I assume Gerry A has had Gerry K’s sensitive bits in a vice this morning over this one. What a humiliation and in the middle of an election campaign

  • Munsterview

    Where is all this vaunted political nounce from S.F. Obviously somebody took their eye off that particular ball!, that is if the co-option was not deliberately passed up to avoid any negative publicity that may have arisen given the circumstances of the resignation!

  • Cato


    Clearly some people weren’t listening. Loupers.

  • Perhaps, considering the circumstances of the suspension, S/F thought discretion was the better part of valour. The last thing they want now are the timing of the ‘suspension’ being pulled to shreds, and further discussion of child abuse/s.

    I think the hope may be that this particular case will ‘go away’ now leaving them to concentrate on the election.

  • british citizen

    “At that time and even at such a late stage, the party failed to put forward a name for consideration.”

    Might be because the man who would be viewed as Meehan’s natural successor in the Glengormley area also had his four children removed from his care in the 1990s over suspicions of mental and physical abuse….

    Birds like a feather flock together….

  • british citizen

    Yes, and the last place you want inconvenient questions and allegations cropping up are in the middle of a GE campaign!

  • Sammy Morse


    Briege Meehan was not a member of Sinn Féin at the point of her disqualification, so it’s dubious to claim that Sinn Féin have any entitlement to nominate her replacement.

    Anyway, there is no way an SF co-option would have made it through Newtownabbey Council and you well know it. Frankly, I very much doubt an Alliance co-option would make it through Newtownabbey Council. Despite us trying to talk to Sinn Féin, they also made no attempt to talk to us until a few hours before the meeting. In fact, they showed no sign of even being aware of the issue until a few hours before the meeting.

    In those circumstances, we were faced with a by-election which the DUP would be almost certain to win – although personally I’d have relished it – or an attempt to find an Independent co-optee who could command cross-party support and ensure every community in Glengormley could be well represented. I’m glad we succeeded despite Sinn Féin’s lack of interest – the election of an Independent Councillor committed to putting the good of Glengormley first is a good outcome for Glengormley residents.

    If Sinn Féin want to big up this issue, that’s their call, but if I was in their shoes, I’d probably want to quietly bury that sort of incompetence, not to mention the circumstances of Briege Meehan’s disqualification, her consistently poor attendance and poor contribution on the council.

    Newtownabbey, embarrassingly one of only two councils in Northern Ireland which have never deigned to elect a Catholic as Mayor, remains a bastion of 1980s-style Unionism. While others prefer to talk big and wave flags, it’s the Alliance Party that still does the heavy lifting in ensuring fair treatment for every resident of Newtownabbey, as it has for 40 years. I’m confident that Alliance councillors can go into next year’s council elections and defend their record of ensuring everyone in the Borough, from Bawnmore to Ballynure, receives equal treatment and good representation. Can Sinn Féin?

  • Pete Baker

    jtwo & cato

    Just like the Irish News I’m ignoring those “legal and ethical reasons rehearsed here ad nauseam”.



    According to the reports Briege Meehan resigned from the council – there was no disqualification.

    And from what I can tell she remains a member of the party for now, albeit “suspended without prejudice”.

    Unless you know differently?

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is a fairly simple matter. Sinn Fein don’t really care that much about Newtownabbey and they forgot to arrange Meehan’s co-option. They’re trying to cover this up by blaming Alliance.

  • cynic47

    No time for the shinners but looks like the lily white, all inclusive party, have pulled another one of their totally selfish fast ones. When you can’t produce power at the ballot box you have to think on your feet.