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State of the Nation

Can Sinn Féin bounce back from Cork East controversy?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

Updated: 12.03pm

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Everyone’s talking about…

Sinn Féin has defended its decision to expel one councillor and suspend another in Cork East following an internal review.

Sinn Fein Dail Scenes Sandra McLellan, Gerry Adams and Pádraig McLoughlin Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

In a statement, the party said it “stands over the review and its recommendations”, which saw Cobh-based county councillor Kieran McCarthy expelled and Mallow-based Melissa Mullane suspended for one year.

There had been tensions in the constituency when both councillors declared interest in running for the Dáil, putting sitting TD Sandra McLellan’s future in doubt as a result.

As the review was taking place, an anonymous blog, ‘An Rebel Óg’, strongly criticised McLellan’s performance as a TD.

In its statement, Sinn Féin noted: “Since the contention has been repeatedly made in the public arena, the party wishes to state that the decisions regarding both councillors were NOT taken in relation to any expressed or implied intention to contest election conventions.”

sf cllrs

McCarthy compared his expulsion to being stabbed in the back, but the party wants to draw a line under the issue as it continues general election preparations.

There was another twist in the tale this morning when it emerged the entire membership of the party’s cumann in Fermoy tendered their resignations.

Support for Sinn Féin has steadily grown in recent times, but the party dropped one point in the latest Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes to 19%, placing it behind Fianna Fáil – which now has a 21% approval rating.

The party will want to move on from this issue as soon as possible, but the latest development means this story hasn’t yet run its course.

The agenda

  • The banking inquiry will have another busy day with John McCarthy, Chief Economist at the Department of Finance, appearing at 9am, Kevin Cardiff, former Secretary General at the Department of Finance, meeting the committee for the second time at 11.30am, and William Beausang, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Finance, answering questions at 3.30pm.
  • Social Protection Minister Joan Burton will answer questions at 9.30am.
  • Taoiseach Enda Kenny and junior health minister Kathleen Lynch will launch ‘Connecting for Life’, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention in Ireland 2015-2020, at Farmleigh House at 9.40am.

  • Representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will meet the Justice Committee at 10am to discuss global resettlement needs.
  • TDs will debate the following bills from 10.45am onwards:

Communications Regulation (Postal Service) (Amendment) Bill 2015

National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Bill 2015 (Seanad) -

Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) (Amendment) Bill 2014 (Seanad) 

Children (Amendment) Bill 2015 (Seanad)

  • Leaders’ Questions will take place at noon.
  • Children’s Minister James Reilly and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan will attend the launch of Comhairle na nÓg’s mental health and well-being programme of events, Let’s Go Mental at the Science Gallery, Trinity College, at 12.30pm.
  • Senators will debate consumer protection at 12.45pm and petroleum exploration at 3pm.
  • The Dáil will vote on Fianna Fáil’s credit union motion after a debate from 7.30pm-9pm.

Inside Leinster House

There were heated scenes during Leaders’ Questions as Paul Murphy accused Michael Noonan of ‘stabbing the Greek people in the chest’ during debt deal talks. The Finance Minister has since said his comments at a meeting of eurozone ministers were misrepresented.

What the others are saying

  • The coalition is concerned about a spike in migrants coming to Ireland, reports the Irish Times.
  • The same paper notes that Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick has said he might run under a different political banner in the general election.
  • A number of publications report that Communications Minister Alex White has said former Tánaiste Michael McDowell was “chancing his arm” when he said new media ownership guidelines should be imposed retrospectively.

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

A nice day out in Sligo…

Read: ‘The last thing the government wants to see is Greece get a better deal than they could’

Read: Out with the old: Bertie’s office sold to fund Fianna Fáil’s election campaign

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