Sinn Féin have denied allegations made this week by party candidate and former Mayor of Athlone Paul Hogan that he has been the victim of a bullying campaign from within his own party.
Cllr Hogan says that he has been the victim of “intense bullying” and a “whispering campaign” by some members of Sinn Féin since October, 2015.
“I was the victim of a spurious and unrelenting campaign of whispering and innuendo, accusing me of the most insidious and vile allegations,” he said. “Despite a clear conflict of interest in the establishment of an inquiry, all of these allegations were found to be untrue.”
Cllr Hogan added that as part of a campaign against him he has been intimidated, received a death threat, is a victim of an anonymous hate mail campaign, and had to appear before a Sinn Féin “kangaroo court” to deny allegations against him.
Furthermore, Cllr Hogan claims that Sinn Féin offered him no support in the last General Election, withdrawing resources from his campaign, hiding posters and literature, and even canvassing against him. Missing out on being elected by just 280 votes, Cllr Hogan believes the alleged campaign against him cost him a seat in the constituency.
He said he did, however, receive support from the local Athlone branch of the party, and from the mid and north Longford branches. He expressed his gratitude for their support, and said their reward for doing so led them to be marginalised and isolated from the party, leading to many rescinding their membership.
“This is my first time speaking publicly on what I have endured,” Cllr Hogan commented. “This 20-month ordeal has had a very negative impact on my health. I have received medical assistance on a number of occasions and underwent a surgical procedure caused by the stress I have endured. This has also impacted on my daily level of work.
“Bullying is rife within Sinn Féin, and I can give many examples of same. The vast majority of Sinn Féin members are good people, but there are some who are allowed to sully Republicanism in the most anti-Republican manner.”
He later submitted a complaint to the new Disciplinary Committee of Sinn Féin detailing more than 80 instances of what he describes as “varying levels of bullying,” Cllr Hogan claims the committee refused to deal with the issues.
However, in response, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said the party’s National Investigations Committee dealt with the complaints made by Cllr Hogan.
“Previously, the party had received complaints about Councillor Hogan which were not upheld and Councillor Hogan was exonerated,” the statement read. “Since then, the party has done all in its power to heal the rifts within the constituency and the majority of members are continuing the work of the party with Councillor Hogan.
“It is not true to say that Councillor Hogan received little or no support from Sinn Féin in the General Election. In fact, the party president Gerry Adams was in the constituency canvassing with Cllr Hogan during the campaign.
“Sinn Féin takes these matters extremely seriously. In accordance with legal advice to the party, we have established a National Investigation Committee to handle complaints of this nature. We are not involved in kangaroo courts and we reject this allegation in the strongest terms.”
The statement adds that alleged death threats and hate mail are a matter for An Garda Síochána, and that the party has told Cllr Hogan this.