Sinn Fein Verdict: ‘When Sorrows Come, They Come Not Single Spies, But In Battalions’

No commentary needed on this piece in yesterday’s Irish Independent:

Ex-SF councillors who left in wake of rows are re-elected

Joy: Former Sinn Féin activist Noeleen Reilly celebrates her election in the Ballymun-Finglas electoral area. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Joy: Former Sinn Féin activist Noeleen Reilly celebrates her election in the Ballymun-Finglas electoral area. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Six former Sinn Féin councillors who had disputes with the party have been re-elected as Independents.

The party struggled to deal with a string of internal rows in the last five years and more than 15 councillors and other public representatives had either quit or been expelled.

Sinn Féin has had a poor local election, losing many of the seats it picked up in 2014.

One ex-Sinn Féin councillor, Noeleen Reilly, got more than 1,700 votes in Dublin City Council’s Ballymun-Finglas ward and said she was “delighted” to be re-elected.

She resigned from Sinn Féin last year after being suspended by the party, which claimed she had orchestrated a social media bullying campaign against the party.

Ms Reilly rejected this and alleged she was bullied within the party and Sinn Féin ignored her complaints.

Last night she said: “The last five years were very challenging but I’ve put it all to bed.”

She argued that the voters in her area endorsed her “positive campaign” and were “turned off” by Sinn Féin. She said she hoped her former party had “learned their lessons”.

Tipperary councillor Séamus ‘Séamie’ Morris quit the party in November 2017 amid claims he was subjected to “unfounded and untruthful allegations”. He was re-elected in the Nenagh ward.

Mr Morris said he was “practically destroyed” by his alleged experience in Sinn Féin and “it took me a long time to pick myself up”. He said he was not surprised by the party’s poor local election, claiming “they’re drifting”. He added: “I’m surprised at how Mary Lou McDonald hasn’t been able to turn the ship around.”

Mr Morris said he had a “good team” around him.

Wicklow councillors Gerry O’Neill, John Snell and Oliver O’Brien were expelled from Sinn Féin in 2017 after an internal dispute.

Both Mr O’Neill and Mr Snell were re-elected. Mr O’Brien was unsuccessful as an Aontú candidate.

Mr O’Neill got more than 1,800 votes. He said he had been a member of Sinn Féin for 47 years and was disappointed at his alleged treatment by the party.

He claimed the people of Wicklow had seen issues with Sinn Féin and “they gave their verdict on Friday”.

Galway County Councillor Gabe Cronnelly resigned in December 2017 due to “unrest” over how Sinn Féin deals with “unethical behaviour”.

It came after Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh left the party, accusing party leadership of ignoring misconduct by local rival Sinn Féin members. Sinn Féin rejected this.

Mr Cronnelly said he decided to leave at the same time as Mr Ó Clochartaigh. The Galway councillor said that, as an Independent, his vote was up 30pc in Friday’s election.

“I’m doing my representation my way now and it’s being seen on the doors. I don’t begrudge Sinn Féin any vote or anything but I have a mandate from the people as an Independent now,” he said.

Carlow councillor John Cassin quit Sinn Féin in February in a reported row over local election strategy. He was re-elected as an Independent on Friday.

Senior Sinn Féin figures including Ms McDonald have repeatedly denied there is a culture of bullying in the party.

She was asked about internal rows on KCLR radio last week. Ms McDonald said she wanted Sinn Féin to be a “happy place for people to engage in politics and activism”.

She said it was a “human organisation” and people fell out and there were political tensions or rivalries.

She insisted the idea its membership was constantly fighting was untrue.

“I accept that there have been some instances in which there were fallings-out and I regret every single one of them,” she said.

But she argued it was “not unique to Sinn Féin”.

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