herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

'We have no bullies in Sinn Fein party', says Aengus O Snodaigh

Aengus O Snodaigh
Aengus O Snodaigh

SINN Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh says he does not believe there is a problem of bullying within the party.

Mr O Snodaigh said the party has put in a "robust mechanism" to deal with allegations of bullying and other grievances expressed by members.

The Dublin South Central TD was responding to claims made by former councillor Jonathan Dowdall who said be quit the party after being bullied by members.

Mr Dowdall was a councillor in Dublin Central, which is also represented by Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

His claims of bullying came on the back of controversy in Cork East involving a number of councillors and Sinn Fein TD Sandra McLellan.

The party expelled councillor Kieran McCarthy and suspended councillor Melissa Mullane for 12 months following an internal party review. As reported last week, tensions existed between both councillors and Ms McLellan.

But in further controversy to hit the party, Mr Dowdall went public with his claims he was subjected to bullying.

"Bullying is allowed to go on in certain parts of Sinn Fein," the father-of-four said in an interview with the Herald.

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

The allegations came as the party celebrated the election of Criona Ni Dhalaigh as Lord Mayor of Dublin this week.

Health

Mr Dowdall has now joined Independent councillor Christy Burke's general election team.

The former North Inner City councillor 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.

Asked about Mr Dowdall's claims today, Mr O Snodaigh said any allegation of bullying will be looked at by the party.

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.

Asked whether there is a problem with bullying within Sinn Fein, Mr O Snodaigh said he didn't think that there was.

"No I don't believe there is any problem with bullying in the party," he said. "I think Sinn Fein has put in place a robust mechanism to investigate any complaint, whether it is bullying or otherwise.

"What happened in Cork, a investigation was put in place, quite robust, they looked at the issue. One councillor was expelled as a result and another suspended," he added. "I think that shows the party is willing to take action."

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