Cork Sinn Féin party whip: “Nobody wants to lose a councillor.”

If losing one councillor may be regarded as a misfortune, and two carelessness, then three looks like… [Wilfulness? – Ed]  Perhaps…  But if Sinn Féin thought they had drawn a line under their little local difficulty in Cork when the party’s sitting TD Sandra McLellan announced she would not be standing in the next General Election, they might have to think again.

The Irish Examiner reports that Glanmire-based Cobh Councillor Ger Keohane has informed Cork Council Council and Sinn Féin party headquarters that he, too, has resigned from the party – despite having sought the party’s nomination to run as a second general election candidate in the Cork North Central constituency two weeks earlier.  That last point was being heavily leant on by the Sinn Féin spokesperson in report.  But the Irish Times reported that the party’s selection decision had been a surprise to others.

Some political commentators have expressed surprise at the party’s decision to add city based Cllr Gould to the ticket rather than Cllr Keohane as the former was based in the city as is Mr O’Brien.

“There was a strong argument for running someone from the rural part of the constituency which makes up over 50 per cent of the electorate and Ger Keohane was the obvious candidate,” a source said.

“Mr O’Brien” is, of course, Jonathan O’Brien, current Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, who will be standing next time out.  He also headed the Spanish Inquisition internal party inquiry which led to the controversial defenestration expulsion from Sinn Féin of Keohane’s fellow Cobh Councillor, Kieran McCarthy.

Cllr Keohane’s resignation now leaves Sinn Féin with no representatives from the Cobh Electoral Area on Cork County Council after having two local councillors elected in June 2014.  Overall the party has dropped from 10 county councillors in Cork to 7 since the election a year ago, while the number of Independents has risen from 10 to 15 councillors.

As the Irish Examiner report noted

Sinn Féin has now dropped to seven seats on the council from the 10 it had.

The Independents have risen from 10 in June 2014 to 15 now, and are just behind Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which have 16 each.

Mr Keohane was unavailable for comment last night, but SF’s party whip on the council, Donnchadh O’Laoighaire, said he had been informed of the move by his party’s headquarters.

“Nobody wants to lose a councillor,” said Mr O’Laoighaire. “Ger’s resignation came as a surprise particularly as he put his name forward for selection two weeks ago for general election nomination. I don’t know what his long-term plans are.

“Yes, it’s disappointing but we will continue to provide the strongest voice of opposition on Cork County Council.”

Needless to say, from the same report, Independents on the Council are not disappointed

Declan Hurley, spokesman for the Independents on the council, said he had been aware for some time that Mr Keohane was not happy.

“He’s a community-based councillor who feels he can’t represent his constituents through Sinn Fein,” said Mr Hurley. “We’d be delighted to have him.”