Deputy Maurice Quinlivan and Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy pictured at the UL Arena during the counting of votes in the Marriage Equality Referendum | Picture: Michael Cowhey
SINN Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan says he does not believe that his former party colleague Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy was bullied prior to her shock resignation from the party, and he claims, “she has exaggerated what happened”.
The Limerick city-based deputy told the Leader this week that he maintains “100%” that there isn’t a culture of bullying within the Sinn Fein party.
“I wouldn’t say I was shocked. I was surprised that she did it without, you know... I actually don’t believe that she was bullied. I don’t believe there is a culture of bullying going on and I believe she has exaggerated what happened,” he said.
The Glenroe-based councillor said there was an alarming increase of intimidation within the party “which amounts to nothing short of bullying”.
“She made a complaint about one specific issue, that was investigated and the party believe there was no case at the time and it was fully investigated. Eight people turned up to that meeting, they were interviewed individually in a hotel in Charleville and they all had a different version to what Lisa Marie had,” said Deputy Quinlivan this week.
“I don’t know what else we were supposed to do. She said it was a joke. I think that is an absolutely disgraceful thing to say because eight different people were at that meeting where it seems all her problem comes from - that one meeting. She claims she was bullied, there was an investigation and the party found no grounds in relation to that. I thought that was put to bed at the time.”
In relation to Cllr Sheehy’s comments which she made in last week’s Leader in which she claimed that she was put under pressure to maintain a workload while doing her final year exams in UCC, Deputy Quinlivan said: “If that happened, it shouldn’t have happened. Lisa Marie was elected in 2014 on the basis that during her first full year she would basically be at college and we had absolutely no problem with that. She then went on to do a Masters in Cork and I did a reference for her for that. She has left the party now so there is not an awful lot we can do about it.
“Obviously, I don’t condone any bullying but I don’t believe there was bullying going on. I believe maybe she misinterpreted things or whatever - I have no idea.”
Deputy Quinlivan said he hasn’t made any contact with Cllr Sheehy since she announced her resignation. “I wish her well and the door is always open to her if she wants to come back.”
When asked if he will be contacting her to wish her well, he said: “I think it’s up to Lisa Marie if she wants to make contact with me - she is the one who has left the party. I would be very careful about what I say to Lisa Marie from now on.”
In response to Deputy Quinlivan’s remarks, Cllr Sheehy said she was “disgusted” that a colleague “I once held in high regard is suggesting I cannot be trusted because I chose to speak out and highlight this issue within the party. I am disappointed that Deputy Quinlivan is dismissing my genuine concerns without having the full picture. There are two sides to every story and I would have thought someone I worked well with for three years would have contacted me and heard my side before commenting on something that he knows nothing about."
Cllr Sheehy said her issues were not treated seriously by the investigation process “and stating I exaggerated my complaints is an example of more of the same attitude I have been fighting against for the last year and that is why I made the decision to leave.” The 23-year-old who is now serving as an Independent and has no intention of joining another party, said that as far as she is concerned “this matter is now closed”.