A former Mayor of Athlone, and current Sinn Fein councillor, Paul Hogan has reiterated his criticism of his party, following on from his statement last week, and has made new claims about life inside Sinn Fein. However the party also responded to his claims to the media last week.
Last week, Cllr. Hogan accused the party of engaging in bullying, and kangaroo courts. This week he gives great detail of the “kangaroo court”, and is critical of party president, Gerry Adams for not visiting Athlone Town in the winter of 2015/16 during the floods.
In a statement to the media following Cllr. Hogan’s surprise statement last week, Sinn Fein responded to the Hogan statement.
Their statement said:
Sinn Féin’s National Investigations Committee has dealt with the complaints made by Councillor Hogan.
Previously the party had received complaints about Councillor Hogan which were not upheld and Councillor Hogan was exonerated.
Since then the party has done all in its power to heal the rifts within the constituency and the majority of members are continuing the work of the party with Councillor Hogan.
It is not true to say that Councillor Hogan received little or no support from Sinn Féin in the general election. In fact the party president Gerry Adams was in the constituency canvassing with Councillor Hogan during the campaign.
Sinn Féin takes these matters extremely seriously. In accordance with legal advice to the party we have established a National Investigation Committee to handle complaints of this nature. We are not involved in kangaroo courts and we reject this allegation in the strongest terms.
Death threats and hate mail are a matter for An Garda Síochana and the party has told Councillor Hogan this.
However Cllr. Hogan released a further statement this week highlighting his experiences inside Sinn Fein over the past two years. He goes into detail about his ‘Kangaroo Court’ experience.
Cllr. Hogan stated on Monday, July 3rd.
“I wish to clarify a number of issues in relation to statements released in response to my public statement on bullying within Sinn Féin last week.
“Firstly, it is not true to state that “Sinn Féin’s National Investigations Committee has dealt with the complaints made by Councillor Hogan”. In fact, on the 3rd of March 2017, I received correspondence from the Chairperson of the National Investigations Committee to essentially say that the Committee would not deal with the complaint as it was ‘too wide-ranging’ and that the Chairperson felt it ‘impossible’ for the committee to deal with my complaint. It also stated that I could not make a statement against the party itself. This reply came five months after I submitted the complaint.
“Since my exoneration, the party has done all in its power to isolate and marginalise any structure of the organisation, which supported my candidature. They have also isolated and marginalised any individual who supported my candidature.
“I also stand over my assertion that I received little or no support from Sinn Féin. In fact, from November 2015, all resources were withdrawn from Longford/Westmeath. My publications including introductory canvass cards and posters were withheld for weeks and months respectively. We were not invited to canvass training. Despite repeated requests for a leadership visit to County Longford, none was forthcoming. The party president Gerry Adams did visit Mullingar for approximately 45 minutes and that was basically the entire contribution by the party to my election campaign. The party leadership also chose not to visit Athlone when much of the town was devastated by floods.
“On October 16th 2015, I was subjected to a kangaroo court, where the verdict was decided in advance of the meeting. I had no right to reply. I stated my innocence to these two individuals and was told that they didn’t care, that the decision was made and I was to support the female candidate that management had lined up to replace me. They told me I could remain as a Sinn Féin councillor, group leader and member. I would expect any member guilty of the allegations relayed to me to be expelled from the party, and not remain as an elected representative or member. I was told I had 6 hours to make my decision and that the matter was on the agenda of the Ard Chomhairle scheduled to meet the following morning. I was told that I would be suspended indefinitely without prejudice, that the leadership would release a statement and in that scenario I wouldn’t be able to contest the election anyway. In any person’s language, this was a kangaroo court and many of my rights as a citizen and as a Sinn Féin member were broken or infringed at this meeting.
“I previously informed the party that I had met with An Garda Síochána in relation to hate mail and the death threat.
“I am calling for major reform on how the party deals with complaints. Many members and former members of the party have contacted me in the last number of days. There is widespread turmoil within the party and there needs to be a radical shake up of middle management.
“I want to thank everyone who has offered their support to me in the last few days and your messages are a great source of support in this very difficult time” concluded Cllr. Hogan.