‘Bullied’ out of Sinn Féin, McLellan eyes run as Independent

A Sinn Féin TD who was allegedly bullied out of her position by party colleagues has held exploratory talks with the Independent Alliance in recent weeks about a possible general election bid, the Irish Examiner has learnt.

‘Bullied’ out of Sinn Féin, McLellan eyes run as Independent

Sandra McLellan is not running again for Sinn Féin after a major internal row with party members in her constituency of Cork East.

Sources close to the matter confirmed she had held “initial informal” talks with Waterford Independent TD John Halligan, but no formal offer was made to her.

The de-facto leader of the alliance, Shane Ross, said that neither he nor Finian McGrath were party to the discussions but the alliance was democratic and they did not necessarily need to be contacted for such discussions to take place.

“I have never spoken to her about this, but I have heard about this as well,” said Mr Ross.

The Irish Examiner understands that all Oireachtas members of the alliance are able to hold discussions with aspiring candidates about the general election without necessarily clearing it with their colleagues.

One alliance member said candidate selections to date had been agreed on a consensus basis and there had been no issue before this.

However, several alliance figures conceded last night that a McLellan association would be “controversial”.

“There would be some unease about a former Sinn Féin member standing for the alliance. It might turn a lot of people off what we are trying to achieve,” said one TD.

Ms McLellan is understood to be somewhat “fearful” about leaving the Sinn Féin fold, despite the bitter internal wrangling in recent months.

“She is cagey all right about jumping ship and the conversation was one of exploration rather than anything concrete,” said one well-placed source.

Repeated attempts to contact Ms McLellan in recent days have been unsuccessful.

Last month, Ms McLellan shocked her party organisation when she announced her intention not to contest the next election for the party.

She said that since becoming a TD, her efforts “were consistently and persistently undermined by a small number in the constituency that called themselves members of Sinn Féin”.

Ms McLellan said that she was not prepared to “risk this for another term” and therefore would not be putting her name before the Sinn Féin Cork East selection convention.

Back in May, councillors Melissa Mullane and Kieran McCarthy had both expressed an interest in contesting the Sinn Féin nomination to stand in this constituency, as had deputy Sandra McLellan.

The holding of this convention had been delayed, however.

On June 22 it was revealed that Mr McCarthy had been expelled from the party and Ms Mullane had been suspended following an internal party review of the constituency.

Mr McCarthy is now to contest this constituency as an independent candidate.

In September, Ms Mullane’s suspension was lifted, following an appeal, in September 2015.

Cllr Pat Buckley was selected Sinn Fein candidate at a recent party conven-tion.

Ms McLellan was the second woman to ever win a seat in Cork East.

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