Entire Derry Sinn Féin leadership asked to step aside
The entire leadership of Derry Sinn Féin has been asked to stand aside, according to the Irish Examiner.
Multiple sources within the party North and South have confirmed that a number of individuals in the Derry Comhairle Ceantair were stood aside last week after a long investigation into the local group regarding election performance and governance.
The investigation focused heavily on elections after two disastrous days at the polls.
In the most recent local elections for Derry and Strabane council, the party lost five seats and its position as the largest party.
In the UK general election, then-MP Elisha McCallion lost the Foyle seat to the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood by more than 17,000 votes.
Ms McCallion, who was later appointed to the Seanad, then stood down after it emerged she had received £10,000 in a Stormont Covid-19 grant for which she was ineligible.
Her resignation was seen at the time as “the final nail in the coffin” for the party’s hopes in Derry and an in-depth investigation was launched.
Out of the public eye
It is understood “the leadership” of Sinn Féin, which included MLA Gerry Kelly, spoke to the group on Friday about an “implementation plan” and asked the leadership of the Derry group to step aside, according to one elected representative.
Some of those asked to stand down are family members of Sinn Féin elected officials in Stormont. It is understood that all were requested to keep the decision out of the public eye.
A senior source in the party said that Derry, once a former heartland for Sinn Féin, would need “a generation” to improve.
“This has been coming a long time. There’s a clique that has run the place into the ground effectively,” they said.
“There are people on the leadership who aren’t responsible, and that’s unfair if they’ve been forced to stand aside, but it needed a clear-out in order to bring about the change that’s needed to build up confidence and trust locally, and it’ll take a considerable amount of time.
“There was a core group making decisions about controlling power as opposed to progressive politics.”