McCallion remains member of Sinn Féin despite resignation from Seanad

McCallion remains member of Sinn Féin despite resignation from Seanad

Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion resigned from the Seanad amid an ongoing scandal over Covid grants in the North. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former Sinn Féin senator Elisha McCallion remains a member of the party despite resigning amid an ongoing scandal over Covid grants in the North.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald told an online meeting of party members on Wednesday night that Ms McCallion, although resigned from her Seanad position, remains a member of the party.

The party has moved to play down the controversy which first came to its attention after coverage on BBC Radio Ulster's The Nolan Show.

Its TDs and members were said to be impressed by Ms McDonald's swift action on the issue, despite the initial shock among elected representatives.

Ms McCallion, along with West-Tyrone MLA Catherine Kelly, her husband Barry McColgan, and another party official from Upper Bann have all resigned from their positions within Sinn Féin.

The Irish Examiner has repeatedly contacted the party for comment on the issue, but has received no response.

Following a complaint by the DUP, the PSNI is “considering the matter as to whether a criminal investigation is required” into the three payments to Sinn Féin offices. The Assembly’s standards commissioner has also been asked to investigate.

The Department of the Economy in Northern Ireland said: "That complaint should be fully investigated, and the department will co-operate fully with the investigation.”

The news came on the same day that Sinn Féin announced it would be tabling a vote of no confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar after he leaked a confidential GP contract to a friend who was the president of a rival GP representative group. 

Announcing the motion, Ms McDonald said: "No one is above being held to account and that there are consequences when you act as Leo Vardakar has done."

Chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party Richard Bruton said: “At a time when people are struggling with the extraordinarily difficult challenges that Covid and Brexit are presenting, and after an extremely comprehensive debate in the Dáil on Tuesday, it is incredible Sinn Féin wish to waste time engaging in narrow tribal politics on a motion that seeks to bring down the Government.

“An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar comprehensively answered all of the questions put to him in the debate on Tuesday, and apologised for the manner in which he sent the document."

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