Sinn Féin says it had no choice but expel rebel Wicklow councillors
SINN Féin has said it had no option but to expel three Co Wicklow councillors because a resolution of the long-running dispute was not possible.
The party said councillors Gerry O'Neill, John Snell and Oliver O'Brien had failed to attend "council team meetings" for 18 months.
The three have been in dispute with Sinn Féin since newly-elected councillor Nicola Lawless was appointed as the party's group leader on the council.
They claim the party has tried to browbeat them and to impose decisions and officers on them. Sinn Féin withdrew the whip from the three councillors in February.
Mr O’Neill has previously said he would not be a "nodding dog" for any party.
Sinn Féin's ard comhairle voted on Saturday to expel Mr O'Neill and his two colleagues.
Waterford TD and chairman of Sinn Féin's Ireland South Cúige David Cullinane said the party had tried unsuccessfully for 18 months to resolve the dispute.
"Sinn Féin is moving on from this dispute and the council team will continue to deliver for the people of Wicklow," he said.
According to RTÉ, Mr O’Neill said the three councillors were still paid up members of Sinn Féin and that they were shocked at the announcement.
The councillors were asked late last year to vacate their seats but refused to do so.
Earlier this month, Limerick Sinn Féin councillor Lisa Marie Sheehy quit the party amid claims of bullying.
In June, the party expelled Tipperary councillor Seamus Morris.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has said he will not enter a coalition with Sinn Féin even if Gerry Adams is no longer leader.
The Fianna Fáil leader told party members that Sinn Féin TDs, including deputy Mary Lou McDonald, parrot what Mr Adams says.
"It is very clear whatever Gerry says, Mary Lou will say – it's a fact," he said.
A fortnight ago, Mr Adams said he would announce plans for handing power to his party's "next generation" if re-elected leader at Sinn Féin's forthcoming ard fheis.
Despite a number of Fianna Fáil TDs raising the possibility of forming a coalition with Sinn Féin, Mr Martin said it would not be an option.
"The vast majority of the party support our position, which was adopted by the parliamentary party to oppose going into government with Sinn Féin," he said.