Sinn Fein Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh resigns from the party over ‘serious disciplinary issues’

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who only narrowly lost out on a Dail seat for Sinn Fein in Galway West and South Mayo, his statement reads

I, with a sizeable number of other dissatisfied members have sought to deal with all these issues through the appropriate channels – locally, regionally and nationally. We have taken them as high as the Ard Chomhairle and the Office of the President and now have no other internal avenue to have them addressed within the party.

Discussions around this have continued up to this morning, but the party’s insistence even today to support wrongdoers, to ignore misconduct and to plough ahead with a selection convention, which in my view has a pre-determined outcome, before serious disciplinary issues are properly dealt with, is the last straw.

I hope that Sinn Féin leadership will seriously reflect on my decision and bring in the necessary reform to deal appropriately with such nasty behaviour from now on in a much more decisive manner, which will protect members trying to do the right thing who are being subjected to wholly inappropriate behaviour of any kind.

  • Hugh Quigley

    The matters being complained about, seem similar to those that others who have left the party reported. The suggestion though, of pre-determined outcomes would appear to ring true: the controlling nature of the leadership has been well reported.

  • Cory Kelly

    Its quite the opposite. Most of the issues and complaints regard a lack of control from the leadership and an unwillingness to involve themselves in local disputes.

  • Damien Mullan

    An absence of plurality surely.

    Leo Varadkar stumbles this week and his leadership is by any objective analysis the weaker for it. His party is anxious, and if there are any repeats surely eyes will glance towards Simon Coveney. Similarly, the nervousness expressed by Micheal Martin’s strategy last week, when it appeared he shot prematurely, was expressed publicly by Eamon O Cuiv, this is illustrative of a freedom and plurality of opinion, even visible public dissension, which was not meet by a hounding of critics or by a circling of the wagons.

    This is utterly absent in the ranks of Sinn Fein. The inability, nay aversion, to countenance dissension and alternative opinions is marked in Sinn Fein. Take the current and live issue of the work and operation of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th, and the public rebuke of Sinn Fein TD Peadar Tóibín’s, and his right to express a personal opinion of its work, as well as expressing a conscience opinion on the wider issue of abortion itself. I don’t happen to agree with Peadar Tóibín, but he has the right to express a differing opinion, on what is by any analysis a matter of conscience. But Sinn Fein are refusing to allow a conscience vote on the 8th. And that tells you all you need to know. They will not allow dissension, even when it puts people in excoriating positions, that ought not to be with parties comfortable with internal division. Of all other major parties, Sinn Fein appears the only one unwilling to allow a vote of conscience, on what is one of the few issues that truly is a matter of conscience.

    No public representative adhering to Edmund Burke’s penultimate adage, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”, it could equally be amended to suggest “sacrificing” it to party.

    We elect individual public representatives not inside apparatchiks by party lists.

  • Croiteir

    The only other party I believe that acts like this is the Alliance Party

  • mickfealty

    You want to ask around. Even people who’ve left and are still basically supporters of the party, will talk freely about the central control exercised at local level.

  • Damien Mullan

    The reason they vote with their feet in the south is they can run and win in other parties or as an independent. That’s why a repeat of how Sinn Fein operate in the north will not work in the south. There’s a plurality of choice in the south, good public representatives can shop around, and the Shinners are up against some well established machines in some constituencies, at 16 percent of the vote on current polls, they are looking at 4th and 5th seat pickups in some constituencies, dog fights really. And as the poison of the austerity years washes out of the system, they’ll need a good day for those transfers down the list. I wouldn’t be so sure they keep Martin Ferris’s seat in Kerry after he retires.

    As of now it’s the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael show, this is the dynamics at play in the media, it’s the clash between Varadkar and Martin, in that dog fight, the rest will get squeezed, Fine Gael will devour a portion of the independent vote, while Fianna Fail will put downward pressure on Sinn Fein. I think as the spring unwinds of the austerity years the political system will find its former equilibrium, that spells bad news for Sinn Fein, they needed more than anything for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to have entered into coalition in 2016, but the opportunity to monopolize and vocalize opposition to the government has not been their’s, their the half party, of the two and half party system, and a courtesy glace at labour tells you how precarious a position that is.

  • Cory Kelly

    If being required to follow party policy, support the manifesto and adhere to ard fheiseanna motions is ‘central control’, then you are correct and every party is equally culpable.
    When it come to personalities however HO stays out of it and the local organisation are charged with sorting it out. Thats where the failure lies in the system. If the Ard comhairle got involved sooner, some of the problems might be resolved quicker and with better outcomes.
    Of those who have been expelled or left. Most of them have no business being in any party. In quite a number of cases they have been knocked back by FF and Labour, even PBP have refused one.
    The flood of new blood into SF has its downside as well as its positives.

  • Mimi Balguerie

    We elect individual public representatives not inside apparatchiks by party lists.

    Surely anyone who votes Sinn Féin knows they are voting for a party that, while very diverse, is tightly controlled with regard to being “on message” at all times. Dare I say it, maybe some of their voters count that as a strength rather than a weakness?
    Having said that, I vote more on the individual than the party, so may be a counterexample, but I know folks who laud the fact that, unlike many other parties, SF have the sense to have their disagreements behind closed doors.

  • Damien Mullan

    “SF have the sense to have their disagreements behind closed doors.”

    That’s very true. Because those that go public about party failings get the black sheep treatment, like Máiría Cahill.

  • the rich get richer

    Not allowing a vote of conscience on Abortion is a mistake by any party that enforces it .

  • Cory Kelly

    Mairia left the party to join republican dissidents.

  • Damien Mullan

    I’m not talking about her period within the party. I’m talking about her struggle to get redress.

    She could have joined the ‘Moonies’, that doesn’t make her legitimate quest for redress any less valid.

  • cornelu mc grath

    They have lost over 10% of their cllrs elected last time in the south.
    The Cork east TD didn’t run because of internal party problems.
    Now a senator from Galway West has resigned because he is being sidelined for SF republican royalty in Galway city.

    Surely all these allegations cant be false even though SF claim they are.
    SF have a problem, they are control freaks.

  • Cory Kelly

    The legal system let her down very badly.

  • Damien Mullan

    Obstruction of justice makes securing justice rather difficult.

  • SDLP supporter

    As I spend a fair bit of time in Galway West/South Mayo I know a bit about the constituency. Its major parts are the very rapidly growing and prosperous Galway City and the Connemara Gaeltacht (the largest in existence). Fianna Fáil were once top dog here, holding 3 seats out of 5, but are now reduced to one, held by an ageing Eamon Ó Cuiv (Dev’s grandson) and the arch sneaking regarder in relation to the ‘republican’ movement and its sordid history. Most of Ó Cuiv’s vote comes from the Gaeltacht and he has relatively little pull in the city.

    Ó Clochartaigh was formerly in Fianna Fáil and is based in Carna, a strongly Irish-speaking area. SF smell blood and sense they could get a seat, and certainly one after Ó Cuiv goes.TOC got the fourth highest vote in 2016 but lost out narrowly on transfers. To be fair to TOC, I had contact with him on a community issue and he came over as competent.

    There is a very ambitious SF Galway City Councillor, Maireád Farrell (eponymous niece of) who is a scion of Belfast Provo Royalty and who recently got on the Ard Chomhairl. SF strategists see their chance, TOC looks a bit old and over weight, and I suspect Farrell has the votes at a selection meeting.

    Just the Provos acting with their usual ruthlessness.

  • Cory Kelly

    Indeed. The psni have been roundly chastised.

  • Cory Kelly

    No, he lost the confidence of his local party organisation including the grassroots membership and activists for a number of reasons. He knew he had no hope of selection unless there was a two candidate strategy which is why up till yesterday he continued to push for same. Itscas simple as that.

  • Cory Kelly

    Sinn Fein leaders have yet to find themselves precariously positioned by circumstance similar to varadker and martin, therefore the issue of public dissention up to now at least does not arise.

    Then you contradict yourself. Toibin has publicly gone against the party line, yes he was rebuked as is norm in any party. But he is still there and not cast out similar to lucinda creighton of fg for example. Labour do not have a conscience vote on abortion in the south, nor it seems will FG.

    FG and FF both send monthly intstruction to their cllrs around the country on how to vote on certain issues. Its a nonsense to suggest that any party should allow their entire elected body to up away on solo runs. It defeats the purpose of having a party structure at all.

    If one wishes to be independent then stand on that platform. If one wishes to represent a party then the requirement to support that party is obvious.

  • Damien Mullan

    Well I don’t know how the PSNI were supposed to append her uncle after his protectors scurried him away, they aren’t Mossad in pursuit of Adolf Eichmann.

  • SDLP supporter

    You’re winging this, aren’t you, Cory? How could he have lost the confidence of the members when there hasn’t been a general meeting of SF members in Galway West?

    No, this is an SF professional ‘hit’ job as developed and refined by the Northern boyos. Expect a flood of stories character-assassinating Ó Clochartaigh in the coming weeks.

    Nah, old Grizzly Adams has a penchant for putting forward presentable-looking young women, of sometimes variable calibre. Sometimes it works out well, other times it’s a disaster, as in the case of Ruane.

  • Cory Kelly

    Hr appeared at court so the scurrying wasnt very successful.

  • Cory Kelly

    You are wrong, they had their comhairle ceantar agm just a few months ago.

  • Damien Mullan

    Quite correct, the wrong abuse victim, it was Paudie McGahon’s abuser who the Provos had scurried off to England.

    A mix up on my part between those two similar cases which eruption within weeks apart.

  • Damien Mullan

    Not according to the presser Sinn Fein put out today.

    “The Sinn Féin selection convention in Galway West/South Mayo is due to be held this weekend.”

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/47419

  • Cory Kelly

    The selection convention is an entirely seperate event to the comhairle ceantar meetings and agm.
    However, the views expressed and the voting patterns at the constituency comhairle ceantar meetings give a clear indication of the direction of travel of the local organisation and the level of support for local reps.
    On that basis there was no chance Trevor would win the selection convention and on that basis he fought for a two candidate strategy which was a no hoper given the results of the last GE.
    This is why he stepped down.

  • Cory Kelly

    Erupted? Or deliberately engineered by INM for maximum impact? Both victims have been dumped by INM and the political establishment in Dublin who appearred so keen on justice at the beginning.
    Paudie opted NOT to go to the gaurds despite SFs Arthur Morgan encouraging him to do so and offering to accompany and assist him.
    At that time the gaurds might have had some hope of getting the culprit, but as soon as the Sindbots got involved it appears he went to ground.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But the “why” is all important. She publically raised some very important issues for any party which claims to have a progressivist agenda and to be advocates of women’s issues. I have found it impossible to listen to Adams speak on women’s issues without remembering both Mairia and Aine’s experience of what happened in practice.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Nasty behaviour”? From members of the IRA’s political wing? Surely not …

  • JohnTheOptimist

    Its time that PSF, one of the most useless, corrupt and criminal political organisations ever formed, was wound up. PSF love to portray themselves as master strategists, the people who are always playing ‘the log-game’ while others short-sightedly focus on the ‘here and now’. We are told ad nauseam that this strategy is the reason for PSF’s astounding success, that it will lead to PSF eventually becoming the dominant force in a United Irish Socialist Republic as it sweeps aside the DUP in the north and FF and FG in the south.

    All claptrap. PSF has a record of failure without precedent,

    (1) In 1970 PSF/PIRA launched a ‘war’ to drive the British out, a war that resulted in 3,000 deaths. In the early years of that ‘war’, PSF leaders assured their followers that victory was inevitable and would come soon. Dotty O’Connell proclaimed 1972 to be ‘the year of victory’. Maire Drumm proclaimed ‘Ireland would be free in 73’ and that the British would soon surrender. I heard her say it at a meeting in late 1972. How the audience roared when she said it. I could tell at the time it was rubbish but, as I valued my kneecaps, I didn’t challenge the claim. Hundreds of young nationalists joined PIRA and gave up their lives because they swallowed this claptrap. A quarter of a century later PSF abandoned the ‘war’ in abject surrender.

    (2) Next stage in the master strategy was achieving a majority in N. Ireland via demographic change. Except there is no sign of it. In 2017 the nationalist vote is lower than it was 15 years ago. While Catholics may be a greater share of the population now, PSF’s criminality and junk marxist ideology has turned many of those Catholics away from nationalism. Prior to every election in N. Ireland we are told that this will be the one where PSF overtake the DUP and become the largest party, Finally, we’ll have a nationalist First Minister. Except it never happens. The DUP are now more powerful than ever, while under PSF ‘leadership’ the nationalist population is politically impotent.

    (3) The other strand in the master strategy was PSF getting into government in the south. PSF were going to sweep FF aside, so we were told. Then PSF would lead a ‘grand coalition of the left’ into government. Except that isn’t happening either. PSF are stuck on 14%. They show no sign of going beyond this and lots of signs that, with the recession over and the economy booming, they have peaked. The gap between PSF and FF is widening dramatically. Most recent polls put FF at twice the level of PSF. Other left-wing parties have tanked so the ‘grand coalition of the left’ is now a pipe dream. Accordingly, PSF’s strategy to get into government has changed and instead of leading a ‘grand coalition of the left’ into government, PSF are now reduced to begging previously-hated FF or FG to take them in as a junior partner in government. Except that both FF and FG have told them to sod off and won’t touch them with a bargepole, knowing that it would be electoral curtains for them if they succumbed to PSF’s embrace.

    So, PSF are now out of power both in the north and the south. Let it stay that way. I can’t see that a single person in Ireland is worse off for PSF not having its hands on any levers of power. Keep them out of power permanently and they will slowly disintegrate. The rapidly-accelerating number of defections in the south is the first sign of that. Now that PSF have added unborn babies to their list of ‘legitimate targets’, I expect to see defections of socially conservative nationalists gather pace in the north as well.

  • Jess McAnerney

    Any wonder the SDLP have lost the confidence of Irish nationalists. Opportunistic and nasty.

  • Jess McAnerney

    Ant wonder we have a problem with suicide
    What an utterly depressing expression of hatred

  • Jess McAnerney

    From what you have said, it would suggest that their decision to stand one candidate rather than two, at least until as you say Ó Cuiv goes, is a sensible decision.
    Surely who the candidate will be is up to the party. No party will always get that right, Michelle Gildernew comes to mind and is an example of how to deal with such disputes.
    This post smacks of opportunist slander and insulting bias.

  • doopa

    “We elect individual public representatives not inside apparatchiks by party lists.”

    Surely this is incorrect. We elect representatives of parties. We specifically do not elect individual public representatives. I personally think this is a problem – but this is the way it is right now in the UK and Ireland.

  • RWP

    Sorry but for the uninitiated, what are TOC’s concerns and to whom do they relate?

  • the keep

    So having a pop at SF is an expression of hatred this brave new Ireland does not bode well for unbelievers it seems

  • Jess McAnerney

    I never said having a pop at Sinn Fein was an expression of hatred
    I said that post was an utterly depressing expression of hatred
    If you change SInn Fein to DUP, Fine Gael or anyone else, it would be just as depressing

  • Red Bhoy

    Great bit of dizzy (dissident) opportunism there

  • mickfealty

    Worth checking out Burke’s speech to the electors of Bristol, which is taken as a seminal definition of what a ‘public representative’ is or should aspire to become: https://goo.gl/2mnAw.

    The clue is in the title, “public representative”. When you are elected as a Councillor AM, MLA, MSP, TD or MPyou are not expected to only represent your supporters, but the constituency as a whole.

    This has been one of the first civilising aspects of having a working NI Assembly: ie that good constituency people take representations from people across the community, especially where their own choice proves reluctant to advance a given issue.

  • Neiltoo

    So you’ll have no problem putting forth an argument against each of the points made? Or does it depress you because it has a ring of truth to it?

  • Jess McAnerney

    It bears little semblance of truth to me, but I think we are now at appoint where everyone should just make their own minds up how to deal with these never ending recriminations

  • Rory Carr

    A not atypical bourgeois misunderstanding of the nature of democratic centralism. The thing is – if you find that Burke is the man for you (I do not) then by all means adhere to a party that pretends to abide by his espoused principles. However, if one is serious about effecting real change in a bourgeois democracy then a party tightly disciplined by democratic centralism is the only way to go. If one is unable to abide by the party line then the door is always open. What is the point of saying that Peadar Tóibín has a right to express his conscience on issues? We all know that he does, but if such opinions conflict with policy decisions democratically arrived at in open debate by the party then clearly he has a duty to his conscience to take his talents for arguing against the party line elsewhere. No doubt the SDLP would welcome him with open arms.
    One thing I have been puzzling about for some time – why is it that the Burkeans only see issues of sexuality and procreation as “matters of conscience” ? But poverty, low wages, poor housing, insufficient health care – none of these more pressing matters in the human struggle for a better life are so considered.

  • doopa

    The title isn’t ‘public representative’ though is it?

    Wikipedia (I know, I know) – says that an MP is a representative of the voters. That would imply more of a relationship with those that voted for them.

    TD’s in multi seat constituencies surely represent their voters – otherwise why have multiple seats?

    And anyway – nevermind the theory, nevermind expectations let’s restrict ourselves to what actually happens. In practise politicians are representatives of their voters not of a constituency. They need to maintain enough votes in order to be returned. We have created a system that is optimised for this and smart politicians have aligned themselves to the system.

  • Ruairi Murphy

    Peadar Toibin is not a good line of argument for you.

    It remains to be seen what will happen with Toibin when crunch time comes over the 8th – whether he will actually be forced to vote against his strongly held beliefs or will he defy the party whip on it (as it happens I have no issue with not allowing a conscience vote on the 8th).

    In any case, Toibin is far more important to SF than Lucinda Creighton was to FG. Toibin has a strong base in Meath. He took 25% of first preference votes in the last election and was elected comfortably on the second count. SF don’t have the luxury of losing such shoo-ins for a seat in the next election.

    In addition, Toibin is the closest thing SF has to a “business friendly” face and that more mainstream economic thinking that is more akin to FF/FG. Sure, Doherty is the finance spokesperson but Toibin garners more respect on business issues among centrist voters. With SF continuing to lurch towards the centre in order to become a “respectable looking” potential junior coalition partner, Toibin is not someone they will wish to ditch without serious consideration.

    In summary I think his position does not add anything either way to this debate here.

  • Cory Kelly

    It is a good line of argument. He has already stepped outside the party on the abortion issue and had his hand slapped. His few weeks in the wilderness was interruptedcwhen Tinmy Dooley of FF asked him if he would jump ship, he flatly refused.

    At worst we will have a repeat of the same next year. Peadar is a committed Republican, its unlikely he will walk or be forced to walk.

    The SF membership wete offerred the option of a conscience vote at thecard fheis. It was rejected massively and democratically. Its a downside in all parties but thats how it is.

  • Damien Mullan

    “We all know that he does, but if such opinions conflict with policy decisions democratically arrived at in open debate by the party then clearly he has a duty to his conscience to take his talents for arguing against the party line elsewhere.”

    Well obviously Jeremy Corbyn is not bourgeois in inclination or policy, yet for the majority of his tenure as a mere backbench MP, he had no difficulty in not only arguing, but actively voting down, Labour government measures.

    As Jeremy Corbyn proves things are not linear, the policy decisions of today, could be quickly derided tomorrow. A party that has sufficiently calculated for a breath of opinion allows its rejuvenation, it allows itself to rhyme with the times when those times are a changing. Diversity of opinion and dissension are necessary for that process.

    I happen to believe that votes of conscience ought only to be contemplated for social policy, and not to allow it extend into the area of voted expenditure and economic policy, which are best reflected by the people in their electoral choices at the polls, and the manifestos they endorse, plus augmented by the electoral weight of parties able to agree a programme for government and an executive able to execute that programme.

    If one allowed economic and tax policy to operate on a vote of conscience basis one would arrive rather sharply at an incoherent and disjointed policy.

  • cornelu mc grath

    Yet another cllr has resigned from SF today