A key Social Democrats figure said they would quit the party and several executive board members have threatened to resign over a proposal to suspend local election candidate Ellie Kisyombe.
Several Social Democrats councillors told the Irish Examiner they stand “in solidarity” with the Malawian woman, after a decision by the party at the weekend to review her background.
However, the Irish Examiner understands the review was agreed as a compromise after the party said at one stage they would suspend Ms Kisyombe as a Social Democrats election candidate.
Dublin Central general election candidate and councillor Gary Gannon threat-ened to resign, as did other members of the national executive board, if Ms Kisyombe was suspended.
The Dublin Central branch declined to suspend’s Ms Kisyombe’s candidacy after an email from the party executive on Saturday. The executive was also told Mr Gannon would resign while other members of board were willing to step down, party sources confirmed.
“The review was a fudge,” said one party source.
Amid the fallout, a conference call was held between the Social Democrats leadership and branch chairs last night as efforts continued to resolve internal conflicts.
The row is over reports that the asylum seeker advocate may have given inaccurate information to the media about her background.
Three board members of the party’s national executive resigned over the weekend after a decision by the board to conduct the internal review into Ms Kisyombe’s background.
Party chair Joe O’Connor, vice-chair Carly Bailey, and board member Chris Bond all stood down.
Meanwhile, councillors and election candidates are supporting Ms Kisyombe despite a decision by the leadership to do a background review over Ms Kisyombe’s asylum history.
Mr Gannon said he had “absolute unequivocal support” for Ms Kisyombe, as did party Cork County councillor June Murphy.
“With everything going on, we need to be careful about making anything worse for Ellie,” said Ms Murphy.
Social Democrats Cork City councilor Joe Harris said more information was needed on the situation.
“Ellie should still be a candidate,” he said.
Ms Kisyombe could not be contacted last night and a party spokeswoman said they would be making no comment.
However, there is discomfort that the executive board, including co-leaders TDs Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall, gave the go-ahead for the review.
This came after a party meeting last Friday, the threats to quit, and actual resignations on Saturday. Neither Ms Shortall nor Ms Murphy could not be contacted last night.Joe O’Connor, who resigned as executive chair, has said that alternatives to Ms Kisyombe’s background review were and are available to the Social Democrats.