A war of words has erupted following Cllr Sean McSharry’s refusal to surrender his seat on Leitrim County Council after his dismissal from the Sinn Féin party.
In a statement issued to the Leitrim Observer last week, Eamon Nolan, Chairperson of Sinn Féin’s Cúige Connacht/Uladh confirmed that Cllr McSharry had been dismissed from Sinn Féin.
Manorhamilton councillor Sean McSharry has reacted angrily to efforts by Sinn Féin to expel him from the party and to give up his seat on the Council.
“Following disciplinary procedures Leitrim County Councillor Sean McSharry was informed on the 10th July of his dismissal from Sinn Féin, Cllr McSharry subsequently appealed his dismissal to the Party’s Ard Comhairle and on 15th September. Mr McSharry’s dismissal from the party was confirmed,” said Mr Nolan.
“Sinn Féin now calls on Sean McSharry to hand back the Leitrim County Council seat to which he was co-opted following the election of Michael Colreavy to the Dáil in 2011.”
In a statement Cllr McSharry responded to the move saying: “It is with great disappointment that, after 17 years of loyal and dedicated service to the Sinn Féin Party, that on foot of my recent ill-health, that Sinn Féin has seen fit to expel me from the party. This expulsion is, in my view, grossly unfair and unwarranted given my particular personal circumstances. I feel that I have not been afforded due process and that this dismissal is excessive and a mistake and against the rules of natural justice.
“After having consulted with my supporters and constituents as well as my colleagues on Leitrim County Council, I have made up my mind to retain my seat on Leitrim County Council and to continue to serve ALL the people of North Leitrim to the very best of my ability.
“I am honoured and feel privileged to fulfil this role and would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people I have worked with over the years in my time as a dedicated and integral member of the Sinn Féin party. I intend to now focus all my energy and proven talents into continuing to serve the people of North Leitrim on Leitrim County Council and have every confidence in my own talents and work ethic to fulfil this role as your representative in North Leitrim.”
Cllr McSharry said that he now intended to serve as an Independent Councillor.
Since then Sinn Féin North Leitrim has issued a second statement to the Leitrim Observer refuting Cllr McSharry’s assertions that the party expelled him because of his recent ill health.
“Mr McSharry was co-opted in March 2011 following Cllr Colreavy’s election as TD for Sligo/North Leitrim. His nomination was supported by North Leitrim Sinn Féin Cumann members following commitments given by him in relation to his willingness and ability to adequately represent the interests of those who voted for a Sinn Féin Councillor in the area. Mr McSharry’s received extensive Cumann support when he undertook the duties as a co-opted councillor.
“Regrettably in August 2011 the Cumann became aware that Mr McSharry was not keeping to commitments he made,” this statment said.
“The Cumann made several attempts over many months in discussion with Mr McSharry to help him address any personal issues he had and received a number of further commitments from him in relation to his future behaviour and constituency performance. Only when these commitments were not kept did Cumann members vote to lodge a formal complaint and request the Comhairle Cúige to start formal dismissal proceedings.”
“Mr McSharry’s statement that he intends to continue as an Independent Councillor is disappointing. His statement ignores the fact that he holds a mandate only by virtue of his co-option by North Leitrim Sinn Féin Cumann members. Once he was requested by Sinn Féin to return that seat, he no longer has a democratic mandate. We continue to expect that he will, in time, keep his promise and return the seat.
“Sinn Féin extend our best wishes to Sean McSharry as he deals with the “personal issues” referred to in his press statement. However we will ensure this seat is returned to Sinn Féin. In the meantime any constituents requiring advice or assistance should contact the Manorhamilton Office on 071-9855099 or mobile 087-2499476.”