Sinn Féin’s hidden crisis? *updated*

In the comments on Pete’s entry covering Padraig McShane’s resignation from Sinn Féin I noted the following list (now substantially updated) of Councillors that have resigned recently (this list is confined to those that have left during the current council terms north and south – those that left in previous terms are excluded):

Dessie Ward
Padraig McShane
Briege Meehan
Domhnall O’Cobhthaigh
Gerry McHugh
Bernice Swift
Barry Monteith
Gerard Foley
Michael Tallon
Poilin Ui Cathain
Killian Ford
Christy Burke
John Dwyer
Louise Minihan
Thomas Pringle
Ian Dooley
Martin Connolly
Oliver Hughes
Patsy Groogan

As medillen commented there is no shared reason for these resignations. It remains fact around 7% of their councillors have left across Ireland in a very short period and it is closer to 10% taking the north alone 10% of their Councillors have left across Ireland. In any other party this would be flagged as a serious problem with their middle tier and a possible indicator of more widespread internal problems.

However, as our predictions contest shows not even those with no fondness for SF expect this to impact on their vote come Thursday.

*Note – the list has grown thanks to reader comments, please feel free to send me any names I have missed*

Update Keith is attempting to detail the reasons for each resignation from the party or council. His incomplete list is here and copied below – if you can fill in the blanks (preferably with link) let him know.

Dessie Ward – no longer defend the party’s left-wing political position.
Padraig McShane
Briege Meehan – child abuse allegations
Domhnall O’Cobhthaigh – “contradiction between the nationalist and socialist agendas within Sinn Fein”
Gerry McHugh – Disaffection with Assembly power balance
Bernice Swift – resigned from the Council over Sinn Féin’s changed attitude to policing
Barry Monteith – does not believe the party’s political strategy will lead to a united Ireland
Gerard Foley
Michael Tallon
Poilin Ui Cathain – Sinn Fein’s support of PSNI
Killian Ford -Jumps ship to Labour after poor election
Christy Burke – differences?
John Dwyer – Irish election fallout
Louise Minihan – Irish election fallout
Thomas Pringle – could no longer participate in the party structure
Ian Dooley
Martin Connolly
Oliver Hughes
Patsy Groogan

Further update The figures show the trend is essentailly the same north and south:

All Ireland – 10.5% of Cllrs left party or Council during current mandate (19 from 180)
North of Ireland – 10% (13 from 126)
South of Ireland – 11% (6 from 54)


  • Pete Baker

    George Brown claims he saved the UK economy Is what SF say so different to what all politicians say.

    Mature minds also know when they are going too far. I was not being sarcastic to Ms Elliott I was agreeing with her and suggesting the cause of that agreement was our ‘maturity.

    This is, I think, the third time you have commented to me and each time you have attempted to be sarcastic. Give it a rest. I am not intimidated, impressed or abashed.

  • Alias

    Michael, I’ve never claimed to have power over others so I don’t know that put that frankly crazed idea into your poor wee dunderhead but I suspect that it may have something to do with your toy chemistry set and DIY shroom recipes that you found on the internet when not searching google for midget porn or hopping all over the threads on Slugger leaving posts at every turn like little balls of rabbit shit. Either that or you are confusing me with your psychiatric nurse and the 9000 volt cattle prod that she uses to usher you back into your cushioned room…

    Still, I shouldn’t mock the afflicted – it has probably taken you three years of intensive electroshock therapy just to get this far.

  • wee buns

    Aint no love in the heart of the city

  • Michaelhenry

    drop the sex ALIAS, where is your political argument, on second thoughs lets talk about female nurses.

  • A Muse from a Female Nurses Fan.

    “The Shinners/Provos operated a policy of discarding members who were prone to independent thinking after MI5 moved their boys into its leadership…” …. Alias says: 30 April 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Ah, now there’s a mistake, for MI5 could certainly do with independent thinkers.

    And considering the level of Intelligence displayed in the country, which would be reflected in the state of the economy and the society, they’ve been seriously lacking in Intelligence and Independent Thinkers for some considerable time which does have one then asking the very pertinent and impertinent question ….. Who, or is you want to get real spooky, what supplies them with their Intelligence, which presumably they would Share with Authorities ergo Stormont Ministers would be their Active Agents in the Field.

    “no girls in the leadership ALIAS, are you sexist has well has thinking MI5 controls the world, watching to many clips of SPOOKS are you.” …. Michaelhenry says: 1 May 2010 at 12:37 am

    Do you think anyone is able and/or trying to control the world, Michaelhenry? And if so, whom? Strangely enough, if one admits to the possibility of it, is it then more likely to be very probably a certainty and most definitely something MI5 would be more than a tad interested in, and if not, then they would be needing a new head honcho or better still if M is effective, a new department with a new head honcho into Global Command and Control Systems.

  • chewnicked

    A new Slugger site, but there’s still the same amount of oul’ bollocks talked, all the same.

  • Michaelhenry

    MI5 intersted in control of the world amanfromMars, these DUMB bonds can not even control IRAq or IRELAND.

  • Sorry, showing my age again! I meant of course Gordon Brown… George lost the battle with Wilson and retired to his bottle..


    true dat

  • stewart

    oul’ bollocks indeed!

  • pol

    Dixie Wrote

    McGuinness and Adams ensured I would never again justify wasting young lives so that others would at a later date become all that they died to remove.

    If you had stayed with the struggle you may have changed things from the inside. As you didn’t and left others to continue the war, then you should have no reason to complain.

  • Alias

    It is handler-supplied propaganda for the Shinners to claim that it just the violent means to an end that has changed rather than the end itself.

    The end was the extension of the right to national self-determination to the Irish nation in NI who were denied it by partition. The new end is the removal of the right to national self-determination from the Irish nation in Ireland and the extension of the Unionist/British veto to that nation; and the dismantlement of the Irish nation state and its replacement by a replica of Northern Ireland. To that end, the British state used its puppet parties to endorse the legitimacy of British sovereignty, endorse the legitimacy of their status as a non-sovereign nation, and to present that abnormalities are progressive ideals that form part of its normalisation policy.

    The Shinners are just a defeated murder gang left proffering the terms of their own surrender as the blueprint for Nirvana. They are now selling reformed British rule as the best thing ever since the alternative is to not selling it as such is to tell their supporters the truth. Most of their supporters are loyal/brainwashed enough to thing that reformed British rule is the best thing ever since the Shinners wouldn’t be selling it as such if it wasn’t.

  • wj

    Oliver Hughes and Patsy Groogan are another two councillors who resigned.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Surely there must be some common reason for so many to leave?

    If they are disillusioned, then over what?

    Are they becoming independents, joining other partys, or withdrawing from politics?

    Lastly, why should we care?

  • medillen

    The Repubican Movement has brought its membership through a period of monumental change and massive historic decisions, the last time decisions of such scale had to be taken there was a civil war. I think the loss of some and the gaining of many many more has shown remarkable leadership.

  • “MI5 intersted in control of the world amanfromMars, these DUMB bonds can not even control IRAq or IRELAND.” …. Michaelhenry says:
    1 May 2010 at 10:54 am

    An interest in a Service which can and does with IT and Media is One of their NEUKlearer Arms with CyberIntelAIgents Security Systems Software and Virtual Machinery Tempest Command and Control Driving HyperRadioProActive IT for Advanced Neuro-Linguistic Program of LOVE Assets with LOVE ……in Live Operational Virtual Environments/Digitised Binary Worlds HidDefinition. … and a dDutch Initiative for Astute NEUKlearer Power and Control Generations/Evolutions of Life and Advanced Virtual Consciousnesses …. Immaculately Graceful Being and Almed to the Teeth against Arms and their Remote Operator Beings.

    One would surely have imagined that to be one of their Bletchley Specials …… an Unknown Unknown now Known …..[“unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” …. ]

  • Michaelhenry

    crown rule is brit rule Alias, there is no crown rule at the assembly, its taking YOU a while to catch on.

  • old school

    Actually, Medillen the last time Sinn Fein took such “monumental decisions” was when De Valera led most of the IRA and Sinn Fein into a makeover, formed Fianna Fail and led them into Leinster House.
    Thats was in 1927. In the 30’s Dev’s party was the biggest in Ireland and Sinn Fein was reduced to Ard Fheis’s of less than 50 attendees.
    Those in Sinn Fein in the 30s would’ve been smaller and less popular than the so called dissidents of today.
    Republican history however looks favourably on those who kept the faith and didn’t follow Dev into FF despite being demonised and interned.
    Republican history rips Dev and his Broy Harriers apart.
    Likewise the Republicans of the future will see Adams and his project of collusion with the British Establishment as we now view Dev.
    But by all means feel free to compare the decisions of your party with those who signed the treaty of partition.

  • redhugh78

    Well guess what, another anti-SF article from Mark ‘scorned’ Mc Gregor. Do you ever get fed up Mark?

    Anyone mentioning Dolores price today in relation to her court apperance? did’nt think so.

  • redhugh78

    Well guess what, another anti-SF article from Mark ‘scorned’ Mc Gregor. Do you ever get fed up Mark?

    Anyone mentioning Dolores Price today? did’nt think so.
    She only made a tiny paragraph in the Irish News today after all.

  • redhugh78

    didn’t even

  • Michaelhenry

    DEV swore allegiance to the crown old school, thats why he is buried just outside the REPUBLICAN plot in dublin.

  • old school

    Is Dolores Price a member of any political party Redhugh?
    She’s an individual who gave most of her life serving that runt Adams, and paid a heavy price.
    Is there any relevance why she should be mentioned in this thread.

  • Alias

    Ah, so it is. I guess nobody told ‘lil old me that the Queen is no longer head of the British state. That’s what the Shinners signed up to when they accepted the legitimacy of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. That, and leading their gullible supporters to formally accept in international and constitutional law that they had no right to self-determination as members of the Irish nation, merely as aspiration to such that is entirely at the discretion of another nation which defines itself by not being the Irish nation.

  • old school

    Opinion poll in Sunday Business Post showing a drop in Sinn Fein support in the South.
    Down from 10% to 6%.
    Despite all the negative publicity based around Fianna Fail, they are losing ground rather than gaining.

  • Alias

    True, but the last time partition was an issue it was because the Irish state claimed that it denied Irish people within the partitioned territory their inalianable right to national self-determination, and the British state claimed that they had no such right and that the right to self-determination properly belonged to the seperate nation of Northern Irish. Now that the Irish people within the partitioned territory have declared that they have no such right and have agreed with the British state, there is no longer anything to fight about. Indeed, the Irish state no longer makes a claim to what is not undisputed British sovereign territory.

  • Sorry to butt in. Not on this thread but I would like to say I hope the lady is well and recovering.

  • Alias

    Dev administered Irish rule. The Shinners administer Her Majtesy’s rule.

  • redhugh78

    Not particularly on this thread, but on the site in general.
    I was refering to my view that Slugger is not a political commentary site but mostly an anti-SF platform for loyalists,unionists,stoops,dissidents and people with an axe to grind against SF generally.

    An example is how dolores is used to attack SF.
    When she made her comments recently about the ‘dissappeared’ etc the usual anti sf element in the media (Irish News esp) and on slugger were using her as a stick to beat SF with.
    SF accused people of manipulating a vulnerable woman who had health issues which is clearly true if what she has appeared in court for is anything to go by.

  • redhugh78

    and I do too.

  • Michaelhenry

    yes, the queen is head of the british state Alias and her subjects swear allegiance to this person, has long has they remeber that they are subjects and not equal as human beings, there is no oath at the assembly where everyone is equal.

  • medillen

    Whoopy do for you old school, if wait a while there will be another poll along in a minute.

  • old school

    You point out an article from the Irish News for us to read, then accuse the Irish News of having an Anti Sinn Fein agenda.
    Aren’t a number of Sinn Fein people writing for the Irish News?

  • old school

    They should be hoovering up disillusioned Fianna Fail voters.
    But they’re not, Labour is. Sinn Fein are in retreat esp. in Dublin.
    Do you have an explanation?

  • Michaelhenry

    IRISH rule Alias, you mean 26 county rule, thats not IRISH rule, plus the bold DEV had to swear allegiance to the crown, ill follow SINN FEIN any day compared to the others.

  • Granni Trixie

    RedHugh: but ‘vulnerable’ or not Price’s version is of interest also because it is consistent with that of Brendan Hughes – a man SF also branded as ‘ill’ (with the drink you know).

  • Michaelhenry

    old school is following opinion polls in newspapers next.

  • Perhaps this is the thread to mention disillusioned republicans, since this thread is actually about them. It feels a bit like talking about someone behind their back!

    Many ex and older republicans have hard and ugly memories to live with and it has seemed to me they have no help or support. I hope I am wrong and they are not left to state (whichever state) services.

  • redhugh78

    The point I was making was as to how on one hand she is front page ‘news’ as a Republican Icon critical of SF and on the other hand a few lines on page 4 of the same paper appearing in court on shoplifting alcohol charges.
    Now if she was a SF supporter I guess that would on be front page ‘news’ in local media and slugger.

  • redhugh78

    Of interest yes but surely her appearence in court on shoplifting charges should also be of interest given the fact SF said she was being manipulated by an anti sf media and was in a poor state of mental health.

  • Perhaps there are times when we should all respect someones privacy. Ms Price made a mistake. I have actually picked up a booklet of menus (cost 30p) walked around Sainsburys collecting ingredients, got to check out, still reading the booklet, paid for my goods – and walked out of Sainsburys without paying for the booklet!

    I was not caught!

  • redhugh78

    Yes they have a couple of opinion piece writers but we all know where the editorial allegiances lie.
    A few subtely placed articles by Simon Doyle happen to appear in the run up to the election attacking Ruane, no coincidence imo but sure what would we expect from the Irish News as I say we all know the papers allegiances.

  • Mark McGregor

    So why are shinners talking about an ill woman appearing in court on this thread?

    Ah…..distraction. They certainly won’t be talking about the numbers of councillors leaving their party so any old irrelevant bullshit will do instead.

  • Hardly irrelevant, but yes it is straying away from the subject. I thought in this case it needed to be said.


  • redhugh78

    Mark perhaps you might get the list accurate for a start. There are names on that list that have left SF for reasons that have nothing to do with SF’s direction or policies but sure that does’nt matter to you.
    I mentioned her as I read about her in today’s paper appearing in court on alleged alcohol shoplifting offences.
    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to question those who paraded her as some sort of republican icon critical of SF whilst those she was making accusations against were questioning the motives behind those manipulating her don’t you?

  • Michaelhenry

    walking out of a store with a stolen litre bottle of vodka up her blouse is a bit differend pippakin.

  • Michael Henry

    I did not need to read that, and nor did anyone else. Suffice to say it was the act of an amateur in the art of theft.

  • hodgie

    sinn fein are in decline because they have been caught out lying on so many occasions people are beginning to see what the republican base first noticed many years ago: they are not exactly the type of people you can trust.

    unresolved scandals follow gerry and his lieutenants around quicker than any soap opera plot: the high level penetration and orchestration of a dirty war; the sex scandals; the hunger strike scandal; the “i was never in the ira” charade; the sudden affluence.

    and the ones as yet to come…… for them if you want, but don’t say you haven’t been warned.

  • Co. Down Man

    The Moyle councillor has stated is fully behind the SF leadership and its policys.

  • Michaelhenry

    sure you can not be tempted to vote for SINN FEIN on thursday hodgie, old habits are hard to beat.

  • hodgie

    having your home broke into and your wife intimidated is harder to forget.

  • redhugh78

    and over 300,000 did the last time they were asked to.

  • The Oul’ Wolf

    Beardie is 1/500 according to the bookies to keep West Belfast. If I was still there I would be asking why the place is going to Hell in a handcart. SF have the PSNI answerable to them now, and the “Community Policing” is supposed to be working. Why then have the murders of Harry Holland, Bap McGreevy, and that other poor guy kicked to death for a cigarette,along with a growing undercurrent of violence, come about on Big Gerry’s watch? Where are the proper jobs? Just wait until the State spending is reeled in, as it will be. Weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  • Mrazik

    Looks like only the Shinners and Fianna Fail are losing support in the 26:

  • old school

    Is Sinn Fein getting media training from MI5 these days.
    Because that post is a classic example of British smear tricks.
    The woman is obviously suffering post traumatic stress, as are many ex Vols.
    Rather than help those affected,draft dodgers in SinnFein want to use this a stick to insult opponents. Just like they referred to another well known Republican with personal problems as the “River Rat”.
    Slabbers the lot of em.

  • old school

    Dismiss the Councillors if you wish, but now you’re dismissing your own voters.
    Someday soon West Belfast will be their only stronghold.

  • old school

    Bah, dissident journalists with an anti Sinn Fein agenda. Grrrrrr.

  • Mark McGregor

    I noted the reasons differ and linked to a post where someone attempted to categorise them. However, that doesn’t matter to you…

  • It has not just ‘come about’ it appears to have been there for some time, unfettered, un punishable brutality. It has to stop and the peace process is the only way to do it, anything else prolongs and accentuates the violence.

    Perhaps the reason some have left SF is they see the complete lack of accountability, and the indifference, some of it displayed in this thread, to the victims.

  • John O’Connell

    It looks like, unlike up North, the public in the south have caught up with Sinn Fein. It won’t be long before the North follows and we see the whole base of Sinn Fein fall apart.

  • Mark McGregor

    Adding three more that resigned within current mandate:

    Martin Connolly
    Oliver Hughes
    Patsy Groogan

  • It annoys me when any sort of scrutiny is shone on Sinn Fein by nationalists/republicans, you’re automatically either labelled a ‘stoop’ or a dissident.

    Sinn Fein has moved increasingly to the centre and has won new support, particularly the young nationalist vote west of the Bann, but they’re steadily leaking many traditional members from areas like East Tyrone.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the SF percentage dipped, but I don’t expect it to. Those disinchanted will either spoil their vote or (more likely) not vote at all, and I’d largely expect that potential loss to be filled by new young voters.

  • Mark McGregor


    As do I and I note in the entry.

    But when you see the list (and it has been growing) it does seem to indicate a problem with retaining their middle tier.

  • Michaelhenry

    the S.D.L.P would not get a single vote in the 26 counties crown john, so you are a nice person giving advice.

  • Keithbelfast

    Still looking for other resignation reasons. Think we need these for clarity. A lot of guessing going on in this thread, most of it wide off the mark.

  • Mark McGregor

    Further update to show a 10% trend across Ireland.

  • I probably wouldn’t disagree.

    But would theorise this is perhaps a symptom of a ‘normalisation’ of politics. For example, Sinn Fein are dominant at all levels from council up to Westminster. ‘Middle tier’ voters as you suggest might direct dissatisfaction with things like roads and general frustration with government (both local and regional) at Sinn Fein, potentially in my opinion generating voter apathy.
    There is also (on a lesser scale) potential for votes to drift to the SDLP. On the other hand FST is the opposite, the tribal nature of it will galvanise the middle to vote Sinn Fein.

  • I probably wouldn’t disagree.

    But I would theorise this is perhaps a symptom of a ‘normalisation’ of politics. For example, Sinn Fein are dominant at all levels from council up to Westminster. ‘Middle tier’ voters as you suggest might direct dissatisfaction with things like roads and general frustration with government (both local and regional) at Sinn Fein, potentially in my opinion generating voter apathy.
    There is also (on a lesser scale) potential for votes to drift to the SDLP. On the other hand FST is the opposite, the tribal nature of it will galvanise the middle to vote Sinn Fein.

  • Apologies about the long winded stutter.

    Just to clarify i’m talking about West Tyrone here where SInn Fein are dominant.

  • redhugh78

    keep on having those wet dreams John.

    At least you seem to have given up the old ‘ soon all those voters that ‘lent’ their votes to sf will return to the SDLP’ bollocks.

  • Mark McGregor


    Sorry, can’t seem to nestle this reply.

    I’m agreeing SF’s vote will not be affected in this election (unlike the south there is no real credible alternative for their vote – the SDLP are still missing every open goal and dissenters are unwilling to put themselves forward for fear of further humiliation).

    The ‘middle tier’ I’m talking about is the activists/members and the level of hemorrhaging noted must surely be an indication of what is happening further down in their activist base.

    Eventually losing activists at that rate could have an impact, to the benefit of the SDLP, some as yet uncreated electoral alternative or a drift to apathy.

  • redhugh78

    so who decides that the reasons listed beside the names are the real reasons?

  • Keithbelfast

    nobody. these are the reasons reported in the media.

    feel free to individually contact each councillor former-councillor if you have the time/inclination.

  • redhugh78

    An insight into what you will be trotting out if SF have a good election Mark?

    no credible alternative?

    It would’nt be their constituency service, peace strategy etc?

  • redhugh78

    I’ll leave that up to you as you are the one asking.

  • Mark McGregor

    If SF have a good election, which I am on record stating I assume will happen, even if they lose FST, I’ll be trotting out the line they had a good election.

    The only people we already know will have a bad election are dissenting republicans -as they didn’t have the balls, strategy or support to put candidates forward.

    However, none of that deflects from the subject at hand – a very clear and documented pattern of SF losing elected reps, middle tier activists and party stalwarts.

  • redhugh78

    Fair enough.
    I know SF have lost a variety of stalwarts and dedicated activists, they have also lost people who were’nt dedicated and who were’nt activists aswell, as a former member Mark you will know the type of person I refer to.

    The facts are that the vast majority of stalwarts and dedicated activists still support the current sf strategy.

  • Michaelhenry

    as soon as friday old school, i think not, the only dissident strongholds are the MI5 base and the odd journalists source.

  • redhugh78

    weren’t even

  • Mark McGregor


    I acknowledge the commitment and dedication of most of SF’s activist base and their belief in the party.

    Just because I am no longer part of it and am critical doesn’t mean I don’t have a great deal of respect for many people still there and an understanding they are genuinely committed to their project and hold deep belief it can achieve aims I share.

    This blog isn’t about that though, its about serious numbers of elected reps walking away.

  • redhugh78

    Is there number that serious when you look at the actual number listed who have gone because of political reasons, remembering some of them said they still endorse SF’s peace strategy and policing stance.
    It’s lees than the ten per cent you quote and given the enormous political changes this last decade and more I’d say it’s to be expected.
    Furthermore it would be fair to say that any councillor unhappy has probably left or will not go forward for re-election as a sf candidate next time round so I cant see any other significant defection.
    It would be a lot more alarming if it was support at the ballot box.

  • redhugh78

    their even

  • lover not a fighter

    Gerry Adams needs to rest himself after this Westminister election.

    Sinn Féin is about more than Gerry Adams and the only way to get this mesage across is for Gerry to go write his memoirs.

  • Reading reports now of defections from Republican Sinn Fein in Limerick. It appears RSF in the treaty county are to go their own way, and will be joined by some members from Cork.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    So, what, exactly, does this mean?

  • If they are not very careful it could mean the beginning of the disintegration of SF. I hope not, but they have no choice, either grow into a real democratic party or wither away.

  • Michaelhenry

    how many groups are people like them going to walk out of, pippakin i hope that SF instead of RSF is just a small error.

  • You know it was a mistake! Not that the same will not apply if they are not careful..

  • Michaelhenry

    at easter the continunity which R.SF are connected to, read out a statement which said that the real were traitors, there is the smell of a feud in the air between the dissidents and looks like some want nothing to do with it and are running to the hills, wonder what side old school will take.

  • Michael Henry

    When will you learn, when it comes to republicans, including SF, there is always the smell of feud in their air. It is feudal by nature.

  • An Phoblacht

    Michael Tallon remains a member of Sinn Féin