After the expulsion of Cobh councillor Kieran McCarthy and suspension of Kanturk-Mallow councillor Melissa Mullane this week, the TD now claims it is time to move on.
But the fall out from an inquiry that looked at “uncomradely behaviour” against deputy McLellan and financial irregularities in a local cumann has divided local party members.
An initial internal party probe into the Cobh cumann last October established financial irregularities, and includes questions about withdrawals from a party credit union account. The cumann was then stood down.
Mr McCarthy claims that monies he borrowed were paid back. This included a €1,100 loan he and his wife took from the cumann. He also disputes that there were no records of €800 he raised in a pub draw being lodged to the credit union account.
Sinn Féin sources say Mr McCarthy got an email from the party’s 26-county directorate this week outlining the reasons why he was expelled for “gross misconduct”. These relate to financial matters, after additional information was obtained by the party as part of its wider review into Cork East, sources say.
Mr McCarthy claims he did nothing wrong and he was party expelled for political reasons so he would not compete with Ms McLellan to run in the next election.
There was speculation yesterday that Ms McLellan may have had discussions with the new Independent Alliance about joining if Sinn Féin did not back her.
While the alliance’s Shane Ross would not comment, Ms McLellan released a statement pledging support for Sinn Féin. She said:
“There can be no doubt that the internal review in Cork East has been tough for party members. It has been long but it has been thorough and I believe that it has been fair.
“Nobody likes to lose party members but now is the time to move on from this whole episode and I am looking forward to getting on with the party’s work in the constituency and building for the future. I will be contesting the upcoming convention and hope to win the support of the party members in Cork East to stand once again for Sinn Féin and to retain this seat for the party.”
But this week local branches are holding a series of meetings amid the dispute.
A statement purporting to represent the Sinn Féin’s Cobh cumann claimed 54 members had resigned in protest at the sanctioning of two party councillors.
This followed claims that members in the Fermoy branch also stepped down.
Ms Mullane said she would appeal her suspension. Mr McCarthy has not yet confirmed if he will appeal his expulsion.
Sinn Féin says it won’t be taking any extra security precautions against possible protests at its annual summer school, despite party in-fighting after the expulsion of one county councillor and the suspension of another.
A party spokesman said the summer school, in its sixth year, “was very well respected by all those involved” and he wouldn’t expect it to be “a place for airing any grievances”.
As the inter-party wrangling continues over the expulsion of Cobh-based councillor Kieran McCarthy and 12-month suspension of Mallow-based councillor Melissa Mullane, Sinn Féin is preparing to go ahead with the opening of the summer school in Ballyvourney tonight.
Guest speakers include Lydia Foy, who took a transgender birth cert case against the State; and Guardian newspaper columnist Owen Jones.
Dr Foy, who was born male, fought a 20-year-plus legal case to have her gender change recognised in law. She will address the audience on Saturday.
Mr Jones will also address the two-day debate, which will be held at the Mills Inn Hotel in Ballyvourney. He is a political activist and author of books such as Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class and The Establishment: And how they get away with it.
The summer school will be opened by Sinn Féin lord mayor of Cork at 6.15pm today.
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada, who lives near Ballyvourney, will be on hand to welcome speakers and guests
“The contributions of speakers such as Owen Jones and Julien Mercille will no doubt foster interesting debate and conversation on important topics and challenges that are facing society today.”