An interesting piece below from last week’s Sunday Independent, written by an old Tribune colleague, Maeve Sheehan, which some of my followers may have missed.
It deals with a burgeoning problem for Sinn Fein, the flight of talented elected activists in the 26 Counties who have become angered or disillusioned by the extent of what they call ‘bullying’ by the party hierarchy. Quite a few have quit in anger.
What they complain of – although most almost certainly do not know it – is really a feature of Provo republicanism that goes back to the origins of the modern Sinn Fein, back to the re-organisation of the IRA that followed the defeat of the O Bradaigh-O Connail leadership by the Adams-Bell-McGuinness faction in the aftermath of the 1974-75 IRA ceasefire.
Facing near defeat by a new British policy of criminalisation, the IRA was re-structured into Northern and Southern commands, a new security unit was created, some cells were created and the organisation ‘politicised’ for a long war.
A central feature of that politicisation was the new status given to Sinn Fein – hitherto mostly a bunch of IRA cheerleaders – which would be given the task of making the Provos relevant, socially and economically, to the Catholic base so that there would be a reason, other than killing British soldiers and RUC men, for people to support the IRA.
A draft of the re-organisation plan was found in a Dublin flat where the then Chief of Staff, Seamus Twomey was hiding in December 1977 and when Twomey was tried for escaping from Mountjoy jail in 1973, portions of the document were read out in court.
Sinn Fein, the document read, ‘would come under Army discipline at all levels’.
And for years thereafter Sinn Fein was treated as part of the IRA. If the IRA gave an order to jump, SF’s reply would be ‘How high?’ Now the Provo hierarchy never liked to be reminded of this reality and I can remember Gerry Adams once bridling in anger when in conversation, I referred to the IRA as ‘the parent body’. But he was fooling no-one. The Army called the shots.
Now a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. We have had ceasefires, decommissioning, the consent principle accepted, Stormont recognised, the hands of British royalty shaken, Dail seats taken and so on.
But one thing has not changed. Sinn Fein is still regarded by the leadership as an Army instrument, to be used as the leaders demand, to obey and not to question – and don’t be fooled, the IRA still exists (who do you think does all the spying or husbands the investment portfolio?). The days are gone, admittedly, when the relationship was transparent but it lives on in the attitudes which have forced so many councilors and TD’s to quit the party.
And it is not without significance that you don’t hear any complaints about bullying north of Newry, just in the south.
Anyway here is Maeve Sheehan’s article. Enjoy.
The once loyal followers who have fallen out with Sinn Fein
Sorcha O’Neill is one of a number of once loyal elected representatives and members who have fallen out with Sinn Fein in recent years.
Some have quit the party, others have been expelled, and some remain in Sinn Fein but have criticised the party publicly. Some have claimed they were bullied, some they were mistreated. Sinn Fein has repeatedly insisted that bullying isn’t tolerated in the party. Sinn Fein has also said that local disputes arise but it’s not always possible to resolve them, as demonstrated by our list of those who have had issues with the party.
Sorcha O’Neill was a councillor in Kildare. She resigned from Sinn Fein in April, claiming she experienced “bullying, hostility and aggression”.
Another of the people on our list, Melissa O’Neill, organised a meeting in Waterford last weekend for disaffected members and former members of the party.
More meetings are expected to be held in the coming weeks.
O’Neill, a councillor in Kilkenny, was expelled from Sinn Fein last year, after a disciplinary process over video footage that emerged of a public argument. She alleges she had been bullied prior to the video and is considering legal action against the party.
Others to have fallen out with Sinn Fein include:
Lisa Marie Sheehy, councillor in Limerick. She resigned from Sinn Fein in September, claiming she had been “undermined, bullied and humiliated”;
Gerry O’Neill, councillor in Wicklow, was expelled from Sinn Fein in September. He is one of three councillors who challenged the party in a dispute over internal leadership roles. He has accused “unelected” party figures of undue influence and control;
John Snell, councillor in Wicklow. He was expelled from Sinn Fein in September, and is another of the Wicklow trio who challenged the party about internal leadership roles;
Oliver O’Brien, councillor in Wicklow. Expelled from Sinn Fein in September, he is the third of the Wicklow councillors to challenge Sinn Fein’s internal leadership roles;
Tara O’Grady, human rights activist and Sinn Fein member. Expelled from the party in July. She believes it was because she assisted the three Wicklow councillors by accompanying them to meetings with Sinn Fein;
Eugene Greenan, former councillor in Cavan. Resigned from his Sinn Fein council seat in June, but remains a party member. Although he left in part for personal reasons, he later accused Sinn Fein of having an “element of dictatorship” and of “acting like bullies”;
Paul Hogan, councillor in Westmeath. Although he remains a Sinn Fein councillor, he claimed in June that he was “bullied”, “threatened” and subjected to a “whispering campaign” by elements in the party;
Seamus Morris, councillor in Tipperary. An attempt to expel him from the local organisation earlier this year failed, and he remains a Sinn Fein councillor. He claimed last month that he was subjected to a nine-month campaign of harassment and slander, and considered taking his own life;
Sandra McLellan, former Sinn Fein TD for Cork East. She declined to run in the 2016 general election and claimed there had been attempts to “undermine and malign” her within the party;
Ger Keohane, councillor in Cork East. Resigned from Sinn Fein in November 2015, and although he has not spoken publicly, it is believed he was unhappy with the party;
June Murphy, councillor in Cork East. Resigned from Sinn Fein in 2015, but did not speak publicly about her reasons until last month, claiming there is a “bullying culture” in Sinn Fein and that the party demeans women;
Kieran McCarthy, councillor in Cork East, Expelled from Sinn Fein in June 2015, after an internal inquiry accused him of “uncomradely” behaviour, which he denied. His expulsion was later lifted but he refused to return to the party;
Jonathan Dowdall, former councillor in Dublin. Resigned in 2014 for health reasons but he also claimed there was a “whispering campaign” and of “bullying” within the party. He has since been jailed for a false imprisonment and threats.