A Sinn Féin councillor in Tipperary has become the latest public representative to resign from the party, citing as "an affront to democracy" the organisation's general election selection convention last year which excluded men from running.
Cllr David Doran also revealed that he has already been contacted by Peadar Tóibín, the former Sinn Féin TD who is in the process of establishing a new political movement following his own resignation from the party.
Sinn Féin won a seat in each of the five electoral areas on Tipperary County Council at the 2014 local elections but has lost two of those five councillors in the meantime, following the resignation of Nenagh-based Seamus Morris last year and now David Doran.
Mr Doran said in a statement to local media on Thursday evening that he had felt "ostracised" within his own party in recent years on a number of issues, including rural crime, as he felt the justice system should be "much tougher with these vicious thugs and criminals, for example by denying them free legal aid, tagging them, giving them longer sentences in cold basic cells without flatscreen TVs, etc".
This stance was at odds with that of Sinn Féin, he said, "which had a more rehabilitative outlook when dealing with such criminals".
The final straw for him, however, was the party's selection convention last year when Ciara McCormack, who is not a member of any council, was chosen.
"Sure no-one could explain how men could be precluded from standing for convention just because they were men."
The party's decision to ensure a woman candidate for Tipperary in the next general election "had half the county talking about us and wondering what in the name of God we were at, and the other half laughing at us".
He also accused the convention organisers of "heavy-handedness" in not allowing the media to be present.
Mr Doran, who told TippFM on Friday morning that he became "politicised" when in college in Letterkenny in the early 1990s and joined the Republican movement over 25 years ago, said he had a meeting with the chair of the Munster Sinn Féin organisation in recent weeks "to try and resolve the matter internally" but this was to no avail.
He also said that he had a missed call and a text message from Peadar Tóibín on Thursday night and while he wasn't ruling out joining the now-independent TD's new movement, "it's not on my mind at the moment" and he intends running in this year's local elections as an independent.
The party's other former councillor in Co Tipperary, Seamus Morris, said earlier this week that he will also be running as an independent in May but could open discussions after that with Mr Tóibín, who is due to hold a meeting in Nenagh next month with a view to attracting support following his resignation from Sinn Féin over its support for repealing the Eighth Amendment on abortion.