SIR – If you would kindly permit, I would like to take the opportunity to reply to Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin’s letter, as published in The Southern Star dated February 20th, 2016.
Firstly, I did not state in my letter published on February 13th that I was a member of Sinn Féin; however, let me put the record straight.
1. In 2001, I was approached by Donnacha O’Shea to join the Francis Hughes Cumann, Skibbereen, and shortly afterwards I represented this Cumann at West Cork Comhairle Ceantair meetings (constituency level).
Between 2001 and 2004, during many of the official Comhairle Ceantair meetings held in the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, I often sat next to Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, the very man who denies that I was a member of Sinn Féin.
2. As an official member of Francis Hughes Cumann, Skibbereen, I participated and voted in the selection process that selected two SF candidates to contest the 2002 General Election for SW Cork, namely Ann O’Leary and Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin. Tim O’Leary was nominated as Director of Elections and yours truly was nominated as Director of Canvassing.
Cionnaith, you have also very conveniently forgotten that during the 2002 campaign election meetings were held in a very well known pub in Corran, Leap (the residence of yours truly), where cumann members from Bantry, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Bandon were present.
3. In 2004 I was again present as a member of Francis Hughes Cumann to vote in the selection convention for that year’s Local Elections. I was given the honour of Campaign Manager for Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, as there were no other takers!
In fact, there were only two people present on many the night (yours truly and you, Cionnaith), as we knocked on the doors at Rosscarbery, Leap, Union Hall, Castletownhsend and, one long Saturday, in the town of Dunmanway. Yes, Cionnaith, only me and you, as there was no other ‘members’ of Sinn Fein to help your cause!
Dear Cionnaith, if you can recall the count at Clonakilty during the 2004 local elections, there was only a handful of people left with you at 3am in the morning. Yes you ran this election very closely; however, you could count the Sinn Féin members remaining in the hall, in one hand. Your campaign manager, yours truly was with you till the bitter end, on that very long night.
I do have a little souvenir, presented to me and signed by Cionnaith in the aftermath of the 2004 local elections, thanking his ‘campaign manager’ for his Trojan efforts. Maybe the Gerry Adams book was destined for someone else?
4. I had a very public spat with the Skibbereen Town Council in 2004, which was widely covered by The Southern Star and 103FM. In the midst of this squabble, some Sinn Fein members took exception to my stance and publicly stated that I was never a member of the party.
On your advice Cionnaith, I decided to check my membership with the party headquarters in Dublin.
Lo and behold, not only was I listed as a member of the Francis Hughes Cumann in Skibbereen, I was also registered as the PRO. Imagine that !
In conclusion Cionnaith, if this is how you disown your former members, how do you treat your voters ?
All I can say ‘Eaten bread is soon forgotten’ !
30 Ard an Chuilinn,
formerly Corran, Leap.