Sinn Féin expels Cork councillor, suspends another… – Updated

…but won’t say why…  As RTÉ reports

Sinn Féin has confirmed that it has expelled one of its Cork councillors and suspended another.

A spokesman said Cllr Kieran McCarthy has been expelled while Cllr Melissa Mullane has been suspended for 12 months.

The spokesman said the action followed a recommendation of an internal party review.

No reason has been given for the action.

Cllr McCarthy represented the Cobh electoral area, while Cllr Mullane represents the Mallow-Kanturk electoral area.

The two councillors were informed of the move at a meeting in Cork city this morning.

In a statement, Cllr McCarthy said he had been given no reason or evidence to warrant his expulsion from Sinn Féin, and he accused the party of stabbing him in the back.

He described his expulsion as an attempt to override the democratic process and to stifle the will of the Sinn Féin membership in the Cork East constituency who, he said, had “lost the confidence of the sitting TD”.

The Irish Times report adds

The sitting Sinn Féin TD in their constituency is Cork East’s Sandra McLellan.

Mr McCarthy accused senior figures in Sinn Féin of operating a “Spanish inquisition” style system and attempting a “poor effort at copying the way Fianna Fáil operates”.

“As far as I am concerned, it is Fianna Fáil Mark II,” he said. He said Sinn Féin had initiated a review because of allegations made and rivalries in the constituency, with the local organisation stood down a number of months ago.

He said there had been allegations of loans being misappropriated, but insisted these not been proved.

He had not been given a copy of the constituency review nor provided with an adequate explanation for his expulsion, he said, adding he had been informed of his expulsion in person by a party official. [added emphasis]

A party spokesman said the decision followed a review of the Cork East constituency and both Mr McCarthy and Ms Mullane had 21 days to appeal to party’s ard chomhairle decision.

However, the spokesman was not able to say what had led to the disciplinary action.

Sinn Féin’s Cork North Central TD, Jonathan O’Brien confirmed the disciplinary action against the two councillors but refused to be drawn on the background.

“I can’t give the background to it because both members have the right to appeal so it would be unfair to comment on it,” Mr O’Brien told Cork’s 96FM.

“And the fact that it was as a result of recommendations on the back of an internal party review, it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on it.

“But they have the right to appeal so I won’t be commenting on anything in relation to it,” said Mr O’Brien after news emerged of the sanctions at a Cork County Council meeting.

According to informed sources, there have been tensions within the Sinn Féin organisation in East Cork for several months and some six months ago the party closed its office in Cobh.

Ms McLellan has retained her constituency office in her home town of Youghal and while she rents rooms for clinics in Mallow, Fermoy, Cobh and Midleton.

Sinn Féin won ten seats on Cork County Council in last year’s local elections but with the expulsion of Cllr McCarthy and the suspension of Cllr Mullane, the party is down to eight.

Cllr McCarthy in particular is a long-serving member of the party whose involvement in republican politics in East Cork goes back to the 1980s and the time of the hunger strikes.

Cllr Mullane is a more recent recruit to the party but did well to win a seat for the party in the hotly contested Mallow-Kanturk electoral area in the last local elections.

“It’s awkward for the party – nobody likes to lose two councillors but the review panel came up with its recommendations and the Ard Comhairle backed their decision” said one source.

Both Cllr McCarthy and Cllr Mullane had both expressed an interest in running for the party in Cork East in the next general election but the party had deferred any decision on the issue.

Adds  As mentioned in the comment zone, a blog has appeared claiming background knowledge of the dispute.  According to an Irish Times report

Mr McCarthy said Sinn Féin had initiated a review because of allegations made and rivalries in the constituency, with the local organisation stood down a number of months ago.

Party sources said a blog called “An Rebel Óg”, which criticised Ms McLellan and the party generally, was included in the review.

Mr McCarthy said he did not know who was behind the blog and added there had been allegations of loans being misappropriated in an attempt to damage certain people, but insisted these had not been proved.

And an Irish Examiner report adds

While SF refused to give details, it is understood hearings focused on months of fractious relations between Sinn Féin members and sitting TD Sandra McLellan. The TD’s cumann called for bullying policy changes at the party’s ard fheis.

After concerns emerged late last year, senior party officials disbanded all cumanns in the area and began a review focused on claims Ms McLellan was being bullied by local party members about her TD performance.

The alleged bullying includes a since removed online blog under the pseudonym ‘An Rebel Og’.

There is currently only one entry on the An Rebel Og blog, and it’s dated 22 June.

An internal inquiry panel was subsequently set up to investigate the various complaints made by the TD in East Cork.  It was bizarrely headed up by Jonathon O’Brien TD, McLellan’s comrade in the Dail.  The complaints, it appears, mainly focused on the two councillors who had expressed an interest in contesting the TD’s seat at convention, Kieran McCarthy and Melissa Mullane.  A happy coincidence?  Or a desperate last ditch effort by the TD to hold onto her seat?  Both councillors refute any accusations of wrong-doing and are continuing on with their constituency work while the inquiry continues to take place.

As things currently stand in East Cork, the structure is stood down, pending the findings of the various inquiries.  The TD is regularly slinging mud in the same two directions, and it seems that nobody has the ability to reprimand her increasingly erratic behaviour.  Communication between McLellan and most of the East Cork membership is all but non-existent, and it seems her recent behaviour has deemed a reconciliation unlikely.  In fact, many members are now openly stating that they will not canvass for the sitting TD should she go forward as the candidate for the upcoming general election.

The party now stands at a crossroads in East Cork.  If it does not take control of the area and listen to its membership, it is likely that the exodus of existing members will continue, new members will be deterred from getting involved and ultimately this traditional Sinn Fein stronghold will collapse.  The party’s handling of issues in the area has shown both a lack of understanding and a loss of connection with its membership.  Internal squabbling is certainly nothing new in politics, but shutting down an entire area’s structure is a foolish move.  A cynic might be excused for thinking the party was willing to sacrifice the East Cork membership, for the sake of keeping the TD content.  Perhaps in this case, the party has underestimated the resolve of its members.

Update  Sinn Féin has now released a statement on their “East Cork Review”…

The review commenced in January and the review panel was headed-up by Jonathan O’Brien.  It included three Sinn Féin Councillors.

The review was initiated following a number of complaints.  It involved interviews and meetings with more than 60 party members in the Cork East constituency including all elected representatives and all party officers.

The review was structured, comprehensive and followed a clear process. Any contention to the contrary is untrue.

The review concluded with the compilation of a report, including findings and recommendations. These recommendations included that Councillor Kieran McCarthy be expelled from Sinn Féin and that Councillor Melissa Mullane be suspended from Sinn Féin for a period of 12 months.

These recommendations were brought before the Ard Chomhairle on Sunday, June 21st.  It was discussed and endorsed at that meeting.

Both Councillors were informed of the review panel’s findings and recommendations by the chairperson of the panel and by the chairperson of the party’s 26 County Directorate at meetings in the Kingsley Hotel in Cork on Monday, June 22nd.

They were given the reasons for the decisions at those meetings. They were also informed that they had 21 days to appeal the decision.  And they were asked to resign their council seats in line with their pledge to the party.

The report and its recommendations are internal to Sinn Féin.

However, since the contention has been repeatedly made in the public arena, the party wishes to state that the decisions regarding both councillors were NOT taken in relation to any expressed or implied intention to contest election conventions.

So, it would appear that, whatever it is that the Sinn Féin party hierarchy has decided that the two councillors were guilty of was serious enough for one to be expelled from the party, the other to be suspended for a year, both to be asked to resign their council seats, but yet it’s not serious enough for the mere voters of East Cork, whom they both still represent, to be told what that is.

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  • chrisjones2

    Ah well ….its better than the good old days of just disappearing

  • Robin Keogh

    …..and?

  • Jag

    In the absence of any background being given by SF itself to what is a dramatic development, rumours are rife and center on whether SF would field one or two candidates in east Cork. By expelling Melissa for 12 months, that disbars her from standing as a SF candidate in the forthcoming southern general election.

    Dramatic stuff though. I can’t recall any other party ever expelling/suspending prominent members without giving a reason.

  • Jag

    How do you “misappropriate a loan”? I can understand how you might misappropriate cash or ink toners, but a loan?

  • ranger1640
  • ranger1640

    Looks like there maybe even more trouble for the shinners in the south and they can’t blame the Orange Order and tunes played by bands, but no doubt they will try and make so sort of tenuous connection.
    http://www.thejournal.ie/fianna-fail-more-popular-than-sinn-fein-2173540-Jun2015/

  • Gingray

    ‘Slugger O’Toole is an award winning news and opinion portal, which takes a critical look at various strands of political politics in Ireland and Britain. It tries to bring its readers ‘open source analysis’ from both the mainstream media and the blogosphere.’

    Or in this case, a copy and paste job from the mainstream media with zero additional analysis.

    Sinn feins refusal to play the game and divulge everything to the media is a story, but this blog is just lazy.

  • Robin Keogh

    Thats hardly trouble, SF have a Cork mayor for the first time in 90 years. The poll at 19% is pretty much in line with all other polls, and twice the level of their last Dail result. If anything, the antics of the OO have done more to help the rise of SF than hinder it.

  • james

    Is that why SF are so eager to maintain the status quo of partition?

  • james

    Perhaps the party faithful don’t need a reason, whatever happens Uncle Gerry knows best.

  • Jag

    In the void created by SF which refuses to provide details behind the disciplinary moves, the media has moved in and is probably adding 2+2=5.

    The Irish Examiner today reports that bullying of Deputy Sandra McLellan played a part in the dramatic move yesterday. Apparently there is a blog “An Rebel Og” (Coca Cola for “the young rebel”) which criticised Deputy McLellan. According to the Examiner the blog is offline but I found it easily enough. It#s here

    https://anrebelogblogs.wordpress.com

    It’s relatively innocuous stuff like this:

    “The newly elected TD failed to keep her promises of constituency clinics, seldom turned up at events and was regularly accused of ignoring issues forwarded to her by both party members and the general public.

    The upshot of this dismal performance over her three years in government was the embarrassing loss of the only sitting Sinn Fein county councillor’s seat in the 2014 local elections, that of Councillor Michelle Hennessy in the TD’s home town of Youghal. Ms Hennessy is also McLellan’s sister-in-law, making the poor vote even more personal to the TD. This loss came amid a landslide local election victory for Sinn Fein in Cork County, where they increased their elected representatives from one to ten in County Hall. The result appeared to come as a shock to the TD, although not so much to the party membership, many of whom were long predicting the loss of the seat in Youghal.” [ENDS]

    It’s hardly scurrilous stuff, though if SF suspected the councillors of being behind this public criticism, you can see why they wouldn’t be happy. The blog goes on

    “Two prominent and successful County Councillors, Kieran McCarthy, from Cobh, and Melissa Mullane, from Mallow, declared their intention to run against the TD at convention. The party’s apparent attempts at preventing a convention was now in tatters, and when an article appeared in the Evening Echo confirming the two councillors’ intention to contest, panic quickly took hold.” [ENDS]

    Despite the secrecy, this drama appears to amount to no more than councillors being unhappy with the sitting TD and being vigorous in mounting a challenge. The “loan” issue appears to have been a loan advanced by SF to a party member who was having personal difficulties. No detail on the value of the loan, but according to one of the disciplined, the loan was repaid in full.

  • the rich get richer

    I don’t care but when they don’t tell me ; I want to know.

    The temptation of their obfuscation is “almost” too much for me ! !

  • Jag

    Hang on a second there Gingray; in this instance, Slugger provided a frame on which contributors could fill in the blanks. No mainstream media is quoting the offending blog which is apparently at the center of this drama. Yet, there it is in the comment above. Only on Slugger!

  • Granni Trixie

    I don’t agree…the cut and paste is yer starter for ten. It would not be ok if it was making some boring point instead of which it is a news item which presumably is intended to get us to comment on an apparent lack of democracy in SF. Or to defend SF or speculate on reasons they don’t want two long standing members as candidates.

    I agree that part of the story is that 2 SF people are speaking publically about their dissatisfactions. Sign of cultural change as regards SF though in general I would find it difficult to be disloyal to a party. Has to be a sign of something seriously wrong.

  • Gingray

    Granni
    Its hardly that uncommon – do a quick search on Slugger and you will find they have a blog covering most elected officials (and other prominent party members like Leo Green) who leave Sinn Fein. There are quite a few. Here is a recent one:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/03/21/ex-sinn-fein-councillors-stormy-valedictory-to-newry-and-mourne/

    Indeed Mick has been predicting the demise of Sinn Fein in the south for some time:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/01/09/councillor-forde-adds-to-sinn-feins-southern-brain-drain/

    But at least in his blogs he has tried to provide some analysis, as well as posting links. The cut and paste job in this blog is just lazy reporting, and has been highlighted because it features Sinn Fein.

    The only people who will have trouble with this are the media, because as Mick has stated before (and has been mentioned several times on the IT political podcast), Sinn Fein members present and past rarely air their dirty laundry in public.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/11/13/south-down-sf-councillor-leaves-the-party/

  • Glenn Clare
  • Reader

    While the original article was a bit sparse, the additional information that has turned up since looks fascinating. It looks like SF has subverted its own candidate selection process.
    Surely you recognise that this is very interesting?

  • Adds As mentioned in the comment zone, a blog has appeared claiming background knowledge of the dispute. According to an Irish Times report

    Mr McCarthy said Sinn Féin had initiated a review because of allegations made and rivalries in the constituency, with the local organisation stood down a number of months ago.

    Party sources said a blog called “An Rebel Óg”, which criticised Ms McLellan and the party generally, was included in the review.

    Mr McCarthy said he did not know who was behind the blog and added there had been allegations of loans being misappropriated in an attempt to damage certain people, but insisted these had not been proved.

    And an Irish Examiner report adds

    While SF refused to give details, it is understood hearings focused on months of fractious relations between Sinn Féin members and sitting TD Sandra McLellan. The TD’s cumann called for bullying policy changes at the party’s ard fheis.

    After concerns emerged late last year, senior party officials disbanded all cumanns in the area and began a review focused on claims Ms McLellan was being bullied by local party members about her TD performance.

    The alleged bullying includes a since removed online blog under the pseudonym ‘An Rebel Og’.

    There is currently only one entry on the An Rebel Og blog, and it’s dated 22 June.

    An internal inquiry panel was subsequently set up to investigate the various complaints made by the TD in East Cork. It was bizarrely headed up by Jonathon O’Brien TD, McLellan’s comrade in the Dail. The complaints, it appears, mainly focused on the two councillors who had expressed an interest in contesting the TD’s seat at convention, Kieran McCarthy and Melissa Mullane. A happy coincidence? Or a desperate last ditch effort by the TD to hold onto her seat? Both councillors refute any accusations of wrong-doing and are continuing on with their constituency work while the inquiry continues to take place.

    As things currently stand in East Cork, the structure is stood down, pending the findings of the various inquiries. The TD is regularly slinging mud in the same two directions, and it seems that nobody has the ability to reprimand her increasingly erratic behaviour. Communication between McLellan and most of the East Cork membership is all but non-existent, and it seems her recent behaviour has deemed a reconciliation unlikely. In fact, many members are now openly stating that they will not canvass for the sitting TD should she go forward as the candidate for the upcoming general election.

    The party now stands at a crossroads in East Cork. If it does not take control of the area and listen to its membership, it is likely that the exodus of existing members will continue, new members will be deterred from getting involved and ultimately this traditional Sinn Fein stronghold will collapse. The party’s handling of issues in the area has shown both a lack of understanding and a loss of connection with its membership. Internal squabbling is certainly nothing new in politics, but shutting down an entire area’s structure is a foolish move. A cynic might be excused for thinking the party was willing to sacrifice the East Cork membership, for the sake of keeping the TD content. Perhaps in this case, the party has underestimated the resolve of its members.

  • I’ve cut and pasted some more detail into the original blog. Enjoy!

  • Gingray

    Thanks Pete, nobody does it quite as well as you!

  • Robin Keogh

    No more interesting than the normal cut and thrust of internal party wranglings especially at constituency level.

  • Jag

    Partly true, and when Mary Hanafin had that tiff with Micheal Martin in FF about candidacy in last year’s Dublin local elections, that generated columns of factual press coverage, not to mention bitching and speculation.

    So, even with a common-or-garden political party such drama is newsworthy.

    But SF has a unique reputation for discipline. Yes, it has expelled a member for unkind words about travellers and Peadar Toibin, one of its brightest stars, was suspended over his opposition to the party’s position of abortion, and there has been a handful of fallings-out in the North with members and staff. But compared with other party’s, SF is incredibly tight, making this falling-out in east Cork all the more newsworthy.

    I fully expect a centerspread in the Sindo this week detailing the background and review in east Cork.

  • Jag

    SF statement issued today includes

    “The report and its recommendations are internal to Sinn Féin.

    However, since the contention has been repeatedly made in the public arena, the party wishes to state that the decisions regarding both councillors were NOT taken in relation to any expressed or implied intention to contest election conventions.

    Sinn Féin stands over the review and its recommendations.”

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/35387

    Despite the denial, SF looks exposed to accusations of being anti-democratic, or forsooth, “fascism”.

    It has lost two of its 150-odd councillors and is calling on them to resign. Looks bitter to me, but internal disagreements in political parties often are.

  • Update Sinn Féin has now released a statement on their “East Cork Review”…

    The review commenced in January and the review panel was headed-up by Jonathan O’Brien. It included three Sinn Féin Councillors.

    The review was initiated following a number of complaints. It involved interviews and meetings with more than 60 party members in the Cork East constituency including all elected representatives and all party officers.

    The review was structured, comprehensive and followed a clear process. Any contention to the contrary is untrue.

    The review concluded with the compilation of a report, including findings and recommendations. These recommendations included that Councillor Kieran McCarthy be expelled from Sinn Féin and that Councillor Melissa Mullane be suspended from Sinn Féin for a period of 12 months.

    These recommendations were brought before the Ard Chomhairle on Sunday, June 21st. It was discussed and endorsed at that meeting.

    Both Councillors were informed of the review panel’s findings and recommendations by the chairperson of the panel and by the chairperson of the party’s 26 County Directorate at meetings in the Kingsley Hotel in Cork on Monday, June 22nd.

    They were given the reasons for the decisions at those meetings. They were also informed that they had 21 days to appeal the decision. And they were asked to resign their council seats in line with their pledge to the party.

    The report and its recommendations are internal to Sinn Féin.

    However, since the contention has been repeatedly made in the public arena, the party wishes to state that the decisions regarding both councillors were NOT taken in relation to any expressed or implied intention to contest election conventions.

    So, it would appear that, whatever it is that the Sinn Féin party hierarchy has decided that the two councillors were guilty of was serious enough for one to be expelled from the party, the other to be suspended for a year, both to be asked to resign their council seats, but yet it’s not serious enough for the mere voters of East Cork, whom they both still represent, to be told what that is.

  • Chris Jones

    What is truly delicious about the blog – which is very well written and has the ring of truth – is that it had to be published in English because no bugger in the party speaks Irish (at least not at that level)

    Tiocfaidh ár lá. Yeah right boys.

    And Marty promised a United Ireland in 2016!!

  • Chris Jones

    Those lambegs can he heard for miles you know

  • Chris Jones

    I don’t understand this.The TD is question is clearly media savvy and a real SFmedia star as this shows

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2157052/Sinn-F-barely-leave-wages-make-TD-Sandra-McLellan-says-partys-pay-policy-deter-candidates.html

    Its great to see a member with a focus on the real political pulse

    ” she struggles to afford make-up and hairdos – which she believes are important for a woman in politics.”

    “Mrs McLellan believes the party’s senior TDs Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and Mary Lou McDonald might listen to her plea if they looked at the electoral ramifications of the average industrial wage policy.

    ‘It might limit attracting a person who is highly paid to run as a politician for a party if they have commitments and if they don’t want to give up their well-paid job. It might limit your gene pool”

    “She also explains that she does not even get access to all her monthly expenses – the party also takes a portion of the €4,982 a month she is reimbursed for expenses claims. The money goes towards paying party staff, something other parties in the Dáil don’t believe is fair.”

    ‘Generally speaking for people I had up to the Dáil I actually paid out of my own pocket, out of my actual wages, because it wasn’t a lot of money at the time each few people that I had up. I just went to the counter and paid it out of my purse.’

  • onionist

    Good to see Unionism concerned with the well being of the voters in Co
    Cork. Finally. Perhaps now Unionism could bother itself with condemning
    the murders and atrocities committed by your government and agents in
    the city & county over the years?

  • james

    Will we see reciprocal apologies for collusion between the Irish state and the IRA, the inaction and indifference which greeted persecution of Protestants in the newly minted Free State (a Catholic state for a Catholic people) and the terrorist pasts of Sinn Fein individually and collectively.

  • Croiteir

    Published in English in the understanding that East Belfast Protestants would not be able to read it. Damn cunning of the fenians.