Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein TD hits out at party for failing to deal with 'bullying culture'

A Sinn Fein TD has criticised his own party leadership for failing to deal with a culture of bullying.

Dublin North West deputy Dessie Ellis broke ranks last night, accusing the party of having "fallen short of the standards we all expect".

He said Sinn Fein has rules on the use of social media which members have not been adhering to.

"There are standards, rules and regulations in relation to bullying and how people respond on social media when it comes to their party comrades and any people for that matter," Mr Ellis said.

"The party hasn't lived up to that at this stage. It has fallen short of the standards we all expect."

Mr Ellis made his intervention after details of a dossier that makes extraordinary allegations about Sinn Fein in Dublin North West were revealed.

The files detail how members have allegedly been subjected to threats and labelled "thugs", "witch" and "ratface".

The alleged threats included "We know where you live" and "you better stay out of Ballymun", according to the dossier.

Mr Ellis is the first Sinn Fein TD to speak out about a bullying culture.

It's understood that he has raised his concerns internally with the party leadership. His claims of bullying practices, particularly on social media, put him at odds with senior Sinn Fein figures such as party president Gerry Adams and leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald.

In a recent interview with the Limerick Leader, Mr Adams said he would quit the party if there was a bullying culture.

"There is no culture of bullying in Sinn Fein. We have a zero tolerance attitude to bullying," he said.

Before Christmas, Ms McDonald did accept there are "issues to be addressed" following a number of resignations from the party. But she denied there was a culture of bullying.

Ms McDonald suggested that the growth experienced by the party could be a factor in some of the claims.

"There is a challenge for whoever is leader of Sinn Fein to manage that transition from a smaller party to a larger party. That's not a unique challenge... I'm very anxious we get it right," she said.

But the dossier, which has been sent to Sinn Fein councillors and senior party figures, lays bare one of the most serious disputes that the party is now trying to resolve.

It comes after it was revealed last week that Mr Ellis sent a legal letter to Ballymun Tidy Towns over remarks allegedly made about him at the organisation's Annual General Meeting earlier this month.

Mr Ellis claims that a completely false allegation was made against him at the meeting by a male supporter of Sinn Fein councillor Noeleen Reilly.

The deputy has also asked Sinn Fein to sanction the individual who allegedly made the claims.

Dublin North West is one of a number of constituencies that has seen bullying allegations. Others include Limerick, Wicklow, Kildare and Cork East.

Belfast Telegraph

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