A statement released yesterday by a Sinn Fein councillor from Athlone has opened up an amazing can of worms about his experience in recent years inside the generally secretive political party. While there have been public rows among members over the past few years nothing has come through like this statement, where the local politician talks of “Bullying,” “whispering campaigns,” and more dramatically, “Kangaroo Courts,” inside Sinn Fein.
Westmeath County Councillor Paul Hogan says bullying is rife in Sinn Féin across the country including Longford and Westmeath. Cllr. Hogan asserts that he is a victim of intense bullying since October 2015 and that there is a constant whispering campaign against him by some members of Sinn Féin.
Cllr. Hogan stated:
“I am an elected representative for the last 13 years and have an impeccable record and reputation of hard work and delivery for the people of this constituency. I am a founding member of the re-established Costello/Hurson Cumann in Athlone since 2003 and a member of Sinn Féin since 1998. I have contested seven elections at a local and national level since 2004. I have also previously served as a member of Sinn Féin’s Ard Chomhairle for a number of years and Chairperson of the provincial Sinn Féin structure.
“However, after a relationship break-up with a former partner, which subsequently turned acrimonious, I was the victim of a spurious and unrelenting campaign of whispering and innuendo, accusing me of the most insidious and vile allegations. Despite a clear conflict of interest in the establishment of an inquiry, all of these allegations were found to be untrue.
“I was subjected to at least one kangaroo court. I have been bullied since October 2015. I have been intimidated and threatened. I have received a death threat. I am the victim of an anonymous hate mail campaign.
“I received little or no support from Sinn Féin in the last General Election. In fact, Sinn Fein’s management line withdrew all resources from my campaign and actually tried to hide posters and literature, paid for by the local organisation. Some members of Sinn Féin canvassed against me. As many will recall, I hit the crossbar in last year’s General Election, losing out by a mere 280 votes, out of a total of 55,816 votes. This is a margin of 0.5% and I firmly believe the campaign against me lost Sinn Féin a seat in the Longford/ Westmeath constituency.
“I documented all what happened to me detailing the kangaroo court, threats, intimidation, bullying, witch-hunts and whispering campaigns. I then submitted an official complaint of over eighty instances of varying levels of bullying to the new Disciplinary Committee of Sinn Féin who refused to deal with the issues contained in the complaint. This is a clear attempt to cover-up and protect those who tried to destroy my reputation.
“Since the election, I and any of the local structures who supported me were subjected to a policy of isolation and marginalisation. Rules were broken or made up when it suited the party.
“This is my first time speaking publicly on what I have endured. This 20 month ordeal has had a very negative impact on my health. I have received medical assistance on a number of occasions and underwent a surgical procedure caused by the stress I have endured. This has also impacted on my daily level of work.
“Bullying is rife within Sinn Féin and I can give many examples of same. The vast majority of Sinn Féin members are good people, but there are some who are allowed to sully Republicanism in the most anti-Republican manner.
“I would like to thank the members of my local organisation in Athlone who have stood with me every step of the way. I would also like to thank the members of Mid-Longford Sinn Fein and North Longford Sinn Féin who rescinded their membership because of the way I was treated by the party. I would like to thank my council colleague Cllr. Úna D’Arcy for all of her support too. I also want to thank my family and partner for their unstinting support during this very difficult time. Lastly, and most sincerely, I want to thank the people of Longford/Westmeath, all 7,824 of them, who placed their trust in me by voting for me in the last election.
“I will continue to serve the people who elected me to the best of my ability”.