With the departure of the Courtmac councillor, Sinn Féin has lost its only rep in West Cork,
a big blow for a party which enjoyed considerable success nationally in the general election
FORMER Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes said it is still early days about making any decision about joining another political party and that he will ‘go solo’ in the meantime as an independent councillor.
As exclusively revealed by The Southern Star online last Thursday afternoon, the Courtmacsherry-based councillor announced his resignation from the party, a move that will have caught many political pundits off-guard.
This now means Sinn Féin has lost its only councillor in West Cork, a devastating blow for a party which has enjoyed considerable political success nationally following the recent general election.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Cllr Hayes – who works as a quality and training manager with Java Republic and is temporarily laid off due to the Covid-19 crisis – said that the recent time off has given him an opportunity to re-assess a lot of aspects of his life and to focus on the priorities for the future.
He also said he was was very disappointed that his recent attempt to secure a nomination for the recent Seanad elections was rejected by the party.
‘After approximately 25 years as a party member and having served as a town councillor and into my second term as a county councillor and two-time Dáil candidate, I believe that now is the time to step away from the party and that a phase of rebuilding for the party should commence locally,’ said Cllr Hayes.
‘Looking at the Government formation talks being finalised in Dublin it’s clear to me that despite getting a record number of Dáil seats in the recent General Election, Sinn Féin will again be heading to the opposition benches.’
Cllr Hayes said he ran close to taking a seat in Cork South West in the recent election, but regrettably fell short.
‘Perhaps with more support and resources, we could have closed that gap and finally made the breakthrough.’
Cllr Hayes said he also advised party officials that he wishes to complete his term on Cork County Council, albeit now in an independent capacity.
And Cllr Hayes had a departing note of criticism for party bosses at Sinn Féin: ‘The party has never been higher in the opinion polls and thousands of new members have signed up to join, but I feel head office needs to prioritise areas like Cork South West if it really wants to finally win a Dáil seat here.’
He believes that there is ample time from now until the next local elections for party bosses to identify potential Sinn Féin candidates and build their profiles.
‘But,’ he added, ‘I have advised the party locally and nationally that I won’t be part of that rebuilding process.’
Cllr Hayes thanked the members and supporters who actively supported his election campaigns over the years.
‘I have made many friends in the party in the 25 years that I have been a member and I hope that these friendships will not be affected by this decision to resign from Sinn Féin.
‘I look forward to continuing to work for all of the people in West Cork in the challenging times ahead.’
Cllr Hayes’s resignation from Sinn Féin now means that Cllr Danielle Twomey will be ‘flying solo’ for the party in the Cork County
It remains to be seen if the bigger parties will, in the weeks ahead, attempt to woo Cllr Hayes into their own political nests.