Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Sinn Fein voting numbers for O'Dowd v O'Neill leadership contest

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein has bowed to pressure and published the voting numbers for the leadership battle between John O'Dowd and Michelle O'Neill.

It was revealed Ms O'Neill received 493 votes - or 67% - to Mr O'Dowd's 241.

Danny Morrison, former publicity director for Sinn Fein, revealed the figures in a tweet.

It said a number of party members had been contacted over the figures, which Sinn Fein refused to disclose after its ard fheis at the weekend.

"Having looked at the matter and contacted both candidates and the director of elections we have taken the decision to release the figures," a statement said.

In August Mr O'Dowd revealed to the Belfast Telegraph he was challenging for the party's Northern Ireland leadership. A move many were surprised given the party's ability to appear united and keep a lid on internal division.

Many senior members of the party backed Ms O'Neill. However, Michelle Gildernew was the only high-ranking figure to back Mr O'Dowd.

There were no public hustings ahead of the formal vote and Mr O'Dowd did not give media interviews explaining his decision to challenge Mrs O'Neill.

The party always stressed it was an "internal matter".

Ms O'Neill became vice president in January 2018 when her predecessor, Mary Lou McDonald, succeeded the retiring Gerry Adams as president.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald rejected claims that the election of the party's deputy leader has been shrouded in secrecy after criticism over the party's refusal to disclose the numbers.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Sinn Fein leader said that there was "absolutely no secrecy around anything" while still refusing to disclose the result.

She said that "unlike other parties" Sinn Fein's leadership was democratically elected.

"We've had our ard fheis and the delegates have had their say," Mrs McDonald said.

"It is not the practice to publish figures, the result is known. The process was an internal one and it's now concluded."

Sinn Fein has been asked for a comment.

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