Thursday 20 October 2016

I quit Sinn Fein over bullying, says former councillor

Councillor Jonathan Dowdall
Councillor Jonathan Dowdall

FORMER Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall has claimed he quit the party because he was bullied by figures in the organisation.

“Bullying is allowed go on in certain parts of Sinn Fein,” he said last night.

“There were numerous attacks on myself from a certain element within Sinn Fein, and there were attacks on my team members.”

The father-of-four’s allegations came as the party celebrated the election of Criona Ni Dhalaigh as Lord Mayor of Dublin.

He has now joined Independent councillor Christy Burke’s general election team.

Former North Inner City councillor Mr Dowdall first said he was leaving Sinn Fein last September for health reasons before later agreeing to stay on.

He finally quit the party and the city council in February.

The Herald approached Mr Dowdall to ask why he left Sinn Fein less than a year after winning the seat.

“I could no longer stand over and watch certain attacks from certain elements within the party,” he said.

“It was totally wrong and it was time for me to go – I didn’t agree with it.

READ MORE: ‘Being first citizen feels brilliant’, says new Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh

“If I stuck by I would have been endorsing bullying and I couldn’t do that or stand by that.”

Mr Dowdall claimed that after he won the seat he was told not to visit certain parts of his own ward because it would upset some party members.

He said that after he became ill last year he received three or four phone calls a day from Sinn Fein members telling him to go back to work on the ground or give up his seat.

Mr Dowdall said that instances of alleged bullying had been reported to party authorities.

“I reported them, team members of mine reported them, and nothing happened,” he said.

“I was given a mandate by the people to represent them in the area and at the end of the day I couldn’t continue to represent them because of

what I was subjected to – it was getting really nasty at the end.

“I fell into bad health and I felt the best thing to do for my family and for myself was to walk away from the party.”

Despite his experience, Mr Dowdall believes there are very capable politicians in his former party

“I’ve nothing against Sinn Fein whatsoever, there are fantastic people within Sinn Fein,” he said.

His claims were put to Sinn Fein’s press office.

“As we have not seen the interview, Sinn Fein will not be commenting on this matter,” a spokeswoman said.

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