herald

Thursday 19 July 2018

'Activist asked Ellis to have someone shot', says ex-SF councillor

Noeleen Reilly
Noeleen Reilly

A Dublin councillor who quit Sinn Fein alleged that TD Dessie Ellis told party members another activist had "approached him and wanted someone shot".

Noeleen Reilly made the claim in a letter in which she also told Sinn Fein bosses she was left "black and blue" following an assault by a woman close to the former IRA bomb-maker.

In an extraordinary complaint filed before she resigned from the party, she alleged that Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald did not respond when she alerted them to concerns for her personal safety.

However, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said Ms Reilly was told "on numerous occasions" to report the alleged incident to gardai.

The letter, seen by the Herald, details what Ms Reilly describes as "violence, corruption and bullying" in Sinn Fein.

Refute

She quit the party yesterday after 17 years, saying she went "up against the wrong people and this was never a battle I was going to win".

Party HQ was quick to refute the claims, issuing a statement from another councillor, Cathleen Carney Boud, in which she claimed to be "the victim of an orchestrated online bully campaign" at the hands of Ms Reilly.

In light of her resignation from the party, Sinn Fein also called on Ms Reilly to step down as a councillor and hand "the Sinn Fein Dublin City Council seat back to the party".

The dispute in the Dublin North-West constituency poses a big problem for Ms McDonald, days ahead of her official elev-ation to Sinn Fein president.

The party's health spokesperson, Louise O'Reilly, was sent out yesterday to try to play down the row, describing it as a "localised" incident.

However, Ms Reilly is at least the 15th public representative to leave the party due to a dispute in recent years.

She refused to elaborate on her resignation statement yesterday, but the Herald has seen a document in which she outlined her issues with the party.

The Ballymun representative describes how Mr Ellis and others "have done their utmost to get me to leave the party".

She details the alleged assault at Naomh Fionnbarra GAA Club, in Cabra, in March 2016, after which she was left "black and blue".

"This was an unprovoked attack from behind," she says, adding that a person in the party later told her it would be dealt with.

Instead, Ms Reilly said people in the party, including Mr Ellis, "tried to justify my assault, which I just found so disgusting and hurtful".

She claimed that a photo of her alleged attacker with Ms McDonald was published on Twitter four weeks after the incident.

Complaint

However, she denies ever being advised to make a formal complaint.

At one point in the lengthy correspondence, Ms Reilly claims that Mr Ellis "told party members" that an individual linked to the constituency dispute "approached him and wanted someone shot".

"I have no idea if this is true, but this is what he advised members and they are willing to come forward," she said.

When contacted about the letter, Dessie Ellis said: "I'm not going to talk about any of it."

A Sinn Fein party spokesman failed to comment to the Herald last night.

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