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Adams denies 'toxic' party atmosphere as Sinn Féin councillor steps down over bullying claims

The party said it had investigated the allegations and found no evidence to support the Limerick councillor’s claims.

Updated at 7.10pm

SINN FÉIN’S YOUNGEST councillor has resigned over what she claims are bullying tactics used by some of her colleagues within the party.

Lisa Marie Sheehy, who is a Limerick representative, said that the party’s environment is “hostile and toxic” and that “there is an alarming increase of intimidation within the party which amounts to nothing short of bullying”.

The 23-year-old, who was elected on the first count in 2014, said she had complained to party members which lead to an investigation.

It concluded that no further action needed to be taken, but Lisa Marie said she felt the investigation was “a joke” and was merely offered as a protocol to deal with her complaint.

This afternoon, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams responded to the allegations of bullying within the party from Sheehy. He said no such culture exists.

“[We] investigated an allegation which was made at the time,” Adams said.

“There is no culture of bullying within Sinn Féin and it’s actually very unfair to the members of this party that this allegation has been made.”

Speaking about her resignation, Sheehy said:

I have no respect for the party anymore as I have been undermined, bullied and humiliated.

“Since I have been elected I have tried to fulfil my duty as a public representative to the best of my ability and during that time I have been consistently and frequently belittled by party members. After seeing a number of other members wronged by the party and nothing of substance being done about it I could not stay any longer”.

Lisa Marie SF Source: Limerick Council

It’s not the first time the Limerick councillor has spoken about her problems within the party – in 2015 Sheehy said that she had been subjected to sexist comments in her first year as an elected official.

She said that other party colleagues across the country agreed with the negative environment within the party. “My resignation will not be the last from Sinn Féin,” she said in a statement today.

She said she would continue to represent her area as an Independent councillor.

Reaction

One of Sinn Féin’s most prominent figures, finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, said on Today with Seán O’Rourke that he was disappointed to hear the news of Sheehy’s resignation, referring to her as a “very hard-working councillor”.

“There had been a preliminary inquiry, we did ask Lisa Marie to provide the allegations in written format but at that stage, she didn’t do that.

“It was shown from that inquiry that the claims could not be substantiated.”

He said that if there was evidence of bullying within the party that Sinn Féin has measures to deal with that.

There have been a spate of resignations from within Sinn Féin with allegations of bullying repeatedly cited as the reason. In April, five Sinn Féin members resigned over bullying allegations; in February last year a Cork TD Sandra McLellan gave a similar reason as Sheehy as to why she didn’t seek reelection.

Doherty said that although there had been three substantial claims in the past year, he maintained that there was “no evidence” to back them up.

“I don’t know what more we could do,” he said.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

Read: Gerry Adams to announce his own ‘future intentions’ as Sinn Féin leader in November

Read: Sinn Féin TD quits after ‘vicious’ efforts to undermine her

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