It’s a well worn pattern that when a Sinn Fein councillor resigns the party whip, no one on either side of whatever has divided them will speak candidly on the matter.
Mickey Coogan from Ballynahinch has sat on Down District Council for Sinn Fein since May 2005. And there’s little evidence that the matter relates in anyway to larger strategies.
There seems to have been some tension, so the Irish News reports, between himself and another person in the constituency party. Some speculate that his resignation indicates a deeper frustration in the independent minded Coogan with centralised decision making inside the party.
UPDATE: The Down Recorder have the interview with Coogan:
“When I rang a senior party official to inform him I would be putting myself forward at the selection convention he asked if I was serious. I explained Naomi’s nomination was a cause of disharmony in Downpatrick and described the election strategy the party was advocating as ‘dangerous and totally unnecessary,'” he revealed.
At the selection convention, Coogan secured the backing of the Downpatrick and Ballynahinch Cummans, but he failed to secure enough votes to win the nomination. “I have no doubt that people in the room that night were told what way to vote. That’s when I started to become disillusioned as people were easily persuaded about which candidates they should choose.
“The killer for me that night was I joined Sinn Fein because I refused to accept things that I felt were wrong; I was strong and opinionated when I joined, but here we had a room full of people who just needed a phone call to tell them who to vote for”.
So Coogan is then asked to run in Strangford (which does have some of his political base moved into it), whilst Ms Bailey (who is based in Strangford, is the designated candidate for South Down). Something Chris has noted here on Slugger, more than once at the time.
Coogan goes on to say:
“It was hard for me to think this wasn’t deliberate as there were so many mistakes, some of them horrendous. I had agreed to contest the Assembly election in the Strangford constituency for the party, but my election poster said I was ‘leading the way for South Down.’
“What was happening was both insane and concerning. My Assembly election material had to be changed on four occasions and I had no literature for the Down Council election until I went to the party in Belfast and demanded it. I warned if it wasn’t provided I wouldn’t be contesting the council election.”
The Recorder also notes the comment of Sinn Fein’s South Down chairman Ryan Morgan, a Sinn Fein councillor based in Kilcoo and thought to be close to the Sinn Fein leadership:
“Mickey Coogan has served Sinn Féin on Down Council since 2005, so I am disappointed he has decided to resign from the party. Despite offers from myself and other senior party colleagues to meet with him to discuss any difficulties, he has yet to give a substantial reason why he decided to resign.”
Original Post resumes—–
It’s thought that Mr Coogan had been working closely with Chris Hassard, who replaced Willie Clarke (subject of an ongoing libel case which appeared in the High Court yesterday), with networking in his Ballynahinch electoral area.
Adds: I hadn’t seen this before, but it raises an intriguing question:
— DownDCunofficial (@DownDCunofficia) November 13, 2012
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty