Violet-Anne Wynne’s resignation from Sinn Féin last week made her the fourth Oireachtas member to resign from the party in just over four years, following Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh in late 2017 and TDs Carol Nolan and Peadar Tóibín in 2018.
Though they all left for their own reasons, there are some commonalities in their grievances – including allegations of bullying, isolation, centralized control of decision-making and, in the case of Nolan and Tóibín, no say in which employees they were hired to work for .
Ms Wynne went even further in her testimony and subsequent interviews, alleging “gaslighting”, “psychological warfare” and that her unplanned pregnancy was used as a “truncheon” by some in the party.
Like Nolan and Tóibín, she claims she was pressured into hiring certain employees that the party decided should work for her.
Suggestions from Sinn Féin sources that made Wynne difficult to work with were dubbed a “mud fight” by the newly independent Clare TD.
Ms Wynne also said she had not heard from Mary Lou McDonald after she gave birth to her baby girl last month and that the total of the Sinn Féin president’s contacts was a Rituals bath set gift that arrived earlier this week was.
Rather unusually, McDonald has yet to publicly address Ms Wynne’s departure, and Sinn Féin has not issued detailed questions on the matter from the site Irish Independent.
The resignation is an unwelcome development for a party on the rise that several polls have predicted will be by far the largest in the Dáil after the next election. Ms Wynne was the first TD in a constituency that is not a traditional Sinn Féin stronghold.
The large influx of new TDs, some with little political experience, has caused problems. The emergence of old social media posts forced Kildare North TD Réada Cronin to apologize for anti-Semitic tweets and Tipperary TD Martin Browne to apologize for linking to 9/11 conspiracy theories on Facebook.
Ms Wynne had to clarify her own historical views on vaccines.
Sinn Fein has been here before.
In 2014, the party won a record 159 local government seats, but in subsequent years more than 10 percent of city councilors left the party, either resigning or, in some cases, being expelled.
Amid the departures, there have been several reasonable allegations of bullying, intimidation and isolation.
In one instance, Tipperary Councilor Séamus Morris, who was running for the party in the general election, said his situation had gotten so bad that he was considering suicide.
A local smear campaign included the distribution of a leaflet depicting Morris and a member of his family alongside false allegations.
Sinn Féin said it was confident that no member of the party was involved in the production or distribution of the leaflet.
Another longtime councilman who ran for Sinn Féin in four national elections, Westmeath’s Paul Hogan, claimed certain party members initiated an ongoing “slanderous and defamatory witch hunt and smear campaign” and said he was subjected to “kangaroo court”.
Sinn Féin said Hogan’s grievances had been dealt with and if he was not happy with the outcome he should “communicate with the party” rather than publicly.
Mr Hogan left the party in 2018 and was recently co-opted into Westmeath County Council as an independent councillor.
The myriad departures have led to questions at Sinn Féin about how it is handling its internal affairs.
The party has reformed its structures for dealing with members’ complaints, but Ms Wynne’s departure shows she still finds it difficult to deal with issues that arise.
“I’m really worried about women who want to perform for Sinn Féin in Clare in the future,” Ms Wynne said rather worryingly in her resignation statement.
Six years ago, Cork East TD Sandra McLellan decided not to stand as a candidate in the 2016 general election, citing “malicious” efforts to “undermine and vilify” her.
McLellan loved politics and loved her job. She wanted to run for another five years and felt she could contribute much more to the Dáil.
But, as she told the Cork echo then: “Efforts to defame and undermine me were particularly vicious, and I had a decision to make regarding my family.”
This Saturday, Mary Lou McDonald will speak at the National Women’s Council’s No Woman Left Behind rally.
It will be interesting to see whether she takes this as an opportunity to address the women in her own party who feel left behind.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/departure-of-violet-anne-wynne-and-others-prompt-questions-for-sinn-fein-over-how-it-handles-internal-affairs-41405052.html The departure of Violet-Anne Wynne and others has raised questions at Sinn Féin about how it is handling internal affairs