Cllr. Paul Hogan has resigned from Sinn Fein with immediate effect. In a prepared statement, the councillor acknowledged that he "pursued every avenue internally" before opting to quit the political party he initially joined in 1998.
"It is with a very heavy heart that I issue this statement today. I have been a member of Sinn Fein since 1998, having become involved with the party at 15 years of age and remaining a committed and dedicated member of the party for the last 20 years.
I am extremely lucky to have such a fantastic team around me. Without them, the successes I have had as a candidate and the electoral gains the party has enjoyed in Longford/Westmeath over the last 15 years would not have been possible.
My team are heavily involved in our local communities and make a significant contribution to the social fabric of Longford/Westmeath and beyond. My heartfelt thanks to them for their loyalty and dedication and many many happy experiences.
I also want to thank my partner and my family for all of their support and guidance," Cllr. Hogan noted.
Outlining the number of roles he has fulfilled since he joined the party, Cllr. Hogan acknowledged that he had met many dedicated colleagues during his time in the party.
"In my 20 years as a member of Sinn Fein, I have served the party in various roles at the highest echelons, including three years as an Ard Chomhairle member, a number of years as Chairperson of the Cuige or Provincial structure, Chairperson of Sinn Fein's National Councillors Forum, Chairperson of Longford/Westmeath Sinn Fein for at least six years, Chairperson on a number of occasions of the Costello/Hurson Cumann in Athlone, of which I was a founding member and key positions in the youth structure of Sinn Fein.
Throughout those twenty years, I have met many fantastic people. The vast vast majority of Sinn Fein members are good, hard-working and dedicated Republicans. Many members of my family are lifelong Republicans," the Cllr. continued.
Cllr. Hogan further reflected on his achievement of becoming the first Sinn Fein public representative to be elected in Athlone in over 90 years when he was so in 2004.
"In 2004, I had the honour of being the first Sinn Fein Councillor elected in Athlone in over 90 years and the first Sinn Fein councillor elected in county Westmeath in 50 years. During that term in office, I was humbled to be elected as Deputy Mayor in 2006/07 and Mayor of Athlone in 2007/08. I deeply cherish the memories I have of been the 'First Citizen' of Athlone, the town in which I was born.
In 2009, I was re-elected to Athlone Town Council. After the abolition of Athlone Town Council in 2014, I was elected to Westmeath County Council. I am currently chairperson of the Environment and Emergency Services Strategic Policy Committee and also a member of the Corporate Policy Group," Cllr. Hogan added.
Having been selected as the Longford/Westmeath candidate to contest the three most recent general elections, Cllr. Hogan highlighted the growth in electoral support throughout the numerous campaigns.
"I was selected as the Sinn Fein candidate in Longford/Westmeath to contest the General Elections in 2007, 2011 and 2016 and the by-election of 2014. Having started from a low base in 2007, our electoral support grew exponentially over that time culminating in me hitting the crossbar in 2016, following a week long count.
"I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who worked and supported me in all elections since 2004 culminating in 7,824 people voting for me in the 2016 election. I am deeply humbled by your overwhelming continuous support and generosity," Cllr. Hogan reflected.
"I once again thank my partner and family, election team and supporters for their support, loyalty and commitment through good times and in bad and I hope that my decision today will bring brighter days in the future," Cllr. Hogan concluded.