Sinn Fein expels two of its councillors in Republic of Ireland
Sinn Fein figures say they were left with "no option" but to expel a sitting councillor and suspend a second following a lengthy internal probe by the party's top brass.
Party president Gerry Adams was among a group of senior figures who this week sanctioned the expulsion of Cork councillor Kieran McCarthy, as well as the 12-month suspension of his council colleague Melissa Mullane.
Party sources said that sitting Cork East TD Sandra McLellan had aired serious concerns about the running of the constituency branch in recent weeks.
There had also been tensions between Ms McLellan and both councillors punished by their party. Both Mr McCarthy and Ms Mullane had expressed their desire to contest the upcoming Irish general election, as had Ms McLellan.
The two politicians disciplined have 21 days to appeal their sanctions.
Several party figures confidentially said the charges against both councillors were serious. But sources refused to divulge the exact nature of the issues that led to the disciplinary action for fear it would "compromise due process".
Mr McCarthy, a Cobh-based councillor, last night claimed he has been "effectively stabbed in the back" by his party.
"After serving Sinn Fein for 34 years and making personal sacrifices along the way, the party has effectively stabbed me in the back," he wrote on Facebook.
"What it has not done is to state the real reason why it wanted rid of me and Cllr Melissa Mullane, the two individuals who just happened to express an interest in contesting Cork East in the coming election."
In relation to Mr McCarthy's claims, a senior party figure last night rejected suggestions that the membership had lost confidence in Ms McLellan.
Neither Ms Mullane or Mr McCarthy responded to requests for comment.