A senior Sinn Fein Assembly member has resigned after attacking the party as "totally undemocratic", it emerged today.
Gerry McHugh, an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and a councillor for more than 14 years, intends to retain his Assembly seat and run as an independent in the next election.
Sinn Fein said today it had yet to be officially informed of Mr McHugh's decision to quit.
Mr McHugh said he had been "increasingly disillusioned with the totally undemocratic nature of the party and the wholly top-down dictation within it. "
The Fermanagh District councillor was not immediately available for further comment, but told the Irish News he had resigned last Friday after a decision which, as a life-long republican, he had found "difficult" .
"I feel the direction Sinn Fein is taking is more about appeasement of the British government and administrating British rule in Ireland rather than working towards the end of British occupation," he said.
"Assembly structures support this - at both committee and plenary level unionists have majority control. What was agreed at St Andrews cannot be delivered without unionist approval."
Mr McHugh is the latest in a number of senior figures to resign from the party in the aftermath of its historic ard fheis decision to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the rule of law.
Former Mid-Ulster Assembly member Geraldine Dougan quit the party in January over the policing issue, not long after former Newry Mayor Davy Hyland resigned after being de-selected ahead of the Assembly election.
And Breandan MacCionnaith, one of the party's Stormont advisers, who remains a spokesman for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition in Portadown, resigned from the party in April.
Mr McHugh said he intended to hold a series of public meetings in the New Year to provide a focus for people to discuss the issues they see as priorities.