BY JACKIE KEOGH
A FORMER mayor of Bandon has been threatened with expulsion from the Fianna Fáil party for supporting the Independent election candidate Alan Coleman.
Sean O’Donovan has claimed he received what he described as a ‘heavy handed’ text from Phil Murphy, brother of the Fianna Fáil candidate, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
The text stated: ‘As Cumann Secretary, Fianna Fáil Headquarters has requested me to confirm that the sanction for any member who canvasses for, or openly supports, a non-Fianna Fáil candidate in an election campaign, is immediate expulsion from membership of the party.’
Phil Murphy confirmed that he sent the text as secretary of the Sean Buckley Cumann in Bandon, but denied it was ‘heavy-handed’. He told The Southern Star: ‘Sean O’Donovan is a highly regarded member of the Sean Buckley Cumann and I felt it was only fair to inform him of the consequences of supporting a non-Fianna Fáil candidate. I was trying to do him a favour.’
Mr O’Donovan, who served as a member of Bandon Town Council for five years, and was mayor for a year, admitted he is canvassing for his long-term friend, Alan Coleman, who left the party after its selection convention in June.
He said: ‘I, like many other former members of various political parties, will be supporting Cllr Alan Coleman in the upcoming general election. I see Cllr Coleman, with his vast experience, as somebody who can deliver common sense leadership as a TD for Cork South West.’
Mr O’Donovan said he had canvassed for Cllr Coleman in the last local election in 2014, and he confirmed that he has plans to work with him in the new constituency office he will be opening in Bandon this week.
He said: ‘I would be very disappointed if this was coming from headquarters. If this is how they choose to treat people who have been very active within the party and worked tirelessly for them, it doesn’t look good for the future of the party.’
A spokesperson for the party in Dublin issued a statement, which said: ‘HQ was completely unaware of this text and did not instruct that it be issued. However, while it does state the factual position concerning our rules, the party’s complete focus is now on the campaign.
‘We are very happy with Margaret’s campaign to date and know that all members and units in Cork South West are working hard with Margaret to win a seat,’ it added.
Mr O’Donovan said he did not pay his party membership this year in protest over the failure of the party to uphold its ‘one member, one vote’ rule at the selection convention.
He said: ‘I was extremely surprised to get such as message as I was in fact not a paid-up member of the party. In the past year, I have become disillusioned with a party I once respected, due to its lack of leadership and weak policies that are designed to grab all people.
‘I know politics is a dirty game, but I would be disappointed if I had been handpicked for censure because I know other members of the party are supporting Alan as well.’
Cllr Alan Coleman said: ‘It is a personal issue for Sean O’Donovan and a party issue for Fianna Fail.’
Meanwhile, Cllr Michael Collins (Ind), has confirmed that he, too, has opened a constituency office in Bandon.