Deputy Maurice Quinlivan and Cllr Lisa-Marie Sheehy
A FORMER Limerick Sinn Fein councillor who left the party over bullying allegations has described Maurice Quinlivan’s defence of suspended MP Barry McElduff as “ridiculous”.
Cllr Lisa-Marie Sheehy, 23, who quit Sinn Fein last September, also said the fact party bosses have only expelled the MP for three months demonstrates “the attitude of the party to people who do wrong”.
Mr McElduff, who represents West Tyrone in the North, sparked anger this week after he posed with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the 1976 attack in the village of the same name, where 10 Protestants were killed, allegedly by the IRA.
Limerick’s only Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan took to Live95FM’s airwaves to defend his party colleague this week, saying it is an “incredible coincidence” that the picture was posted 42 years to the day of the atrocity.
Cllr Sheehy, who now sits as an Independent, tweeted a link to this story, typing: “A coincidence? Because he normally videos himself putting various other sliced pans on his head and just got unlucky?”
Speaking on Live95FM, Mr Quinlivan said he felt that the three month suspension handed down is “adequate”.
“I genuinely do not believe he set out to cause offence. It’s an incredible coincidence, and I believe that’s what happened. The party acted quickly. Our party leaders in the North met with him, and as a result he has been suspended for three months,” he said.
But Cllr Sheehy of Glenroe retorted: “A coincidence? Come on!”
“Maurice Quinlivan’s explanation was so ridiculous, and it just shows the attitude of the party to people who do wrong, who cause offence, who are insensitive and upset other people by their actions.
“I just wanted to highlight the ridiculous nature of his comments really. They were laughable,” she said.
The youngest female councillor in the country believes Mr McElduff should have considered stepping down in the wake of the controversial video.
“It was an intentional upset. Things can happen, people make mistakes, we all understand that.
“But that was an intentional hurt. Three months’ suspension does not reflect the hurt caused,” she added.
For his part, Mr McElduff apologised for the post, and offered to meet Unionist families.
In a Tweet, he wrote: “Had not realised or imagined for a second any possible link between product brand name and Kingsmill anniversary.”
Fine Gael’s Junior Minister, Limerick TD Patrick O’Donovan says the three-month suspension does not go far enough.
He said: “The behaviour, I think Simon Coveney described it as stupid yesterday, I think that is putting it mildly.
“I think the reaction of the relatives spoke volumes for the hurt that had been inflicted.
“But Sinn Féin has made the decision to impose the sanction, and it is what it is, but the relatives don’t believe that it is appropriate and to be quite honest about it I would agree with them."
Mr Quinlivan declined to comment further when contacted.