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Sinn Fein councillor quits over 'bullying'

Connla Young

ONE of Sinn Fein's longest serving councillors has resigned over claims of "isolation and bullying" by party colleagues. Newry and Mourne councillor Brendan Curran, pictured, said he will continue to sit on council as an independent representative. A former republican prisoner he is a founding member of Sinn Fein in the Newry area and was first elected in 1985. Mr Curran, who also runs a security firm and has acted as a bodyguard for clients including glamour model Katie Price, served as Sinn Fein's first mayor of Newry and Mourne in 1998.

His decision to leave Sinn Fein comes just weeks after former Moyle Sinn Fein councillor Margaret Anne McKillop walked away from the party over its pro-abortion stance.

The Irish News understands Mr Curran had threatened to resign from the party last year because he was unhappy with the party's leadership and direction locally and only agreed to re-main after senior officials from Belfast intervened.

Informed sources say Belfast-based Sinn Fein officials "took control" of the party in the Newry area for several months while a "review" of local structures was carried out. Mr Curran last night said the decision to leave Sinn Fein was a "difficult and distressing". Divisions within the party in Newry came to a head after Sinn Fein released a statement in the name of election candidate Lliz Kimmins in which she thanked several Sinn Fein colleagues, Valerie Harte and Charlie Casey but failed to mention Mr Curran.

He said he took this as a "snub". "Despite monumental attempts to re-pair and resolve the serious fractures within Newry Sinn Fein by our six county leadership, myself, and numerous Newry members, I feel that the recent statement and covert attack in the local newspaper by the new Newry candidate Liz Kimmins, in which she excluded me as her Sinn Fein colleague, sets the tone for the future of the local organisation," he said.

"as a result of substantial complaints and general unease since the last local election, there were many leadership efforts and changes introduced to remove the destructive effects of a small elitist clique within the Newry organisation, but to no avail." despite the fall-out at local level Mr Curran pledged to continue to support "the Sinn Fein leadership" in future. a spokeswoman for Sinn Fein said it regrets Mr Curran's decision.

"We are disappointed by and refute his comments about the local party leadership and candidates," she said.

"Our membership in Newry has been growing over the past number of years and continues to grow.

"Unfortunately Brendan has chosen not to be part of our efforts to build the party and support for our political objectives in the time ahead."

Meanwhile, Dungannon Sinn Fein councillor Larry Mclarnon recently resigned his seat on health grounds.

In nearby Magherafelt party sources have confirmed that councillor Deborah Ni Shiadhail is also expected to quit her seat before the end of December.

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