Northern Ireland: Councillor resigns from Sinn Fein to join the Socialist Party

Domhnall O Cobhthaigh leaves Sinn Fein to help “build cross-community opposition to right-wing economic policies”

Sinn Fein councillor Domhnall O Cobhthaigh today announced his resiganation from the party at a press conference in order to join the Socialist Party to “build a cross-community opposition to the right-wing economic policies of the Assembly Executive”.

Fermanagh Cllr Domhnall O Cobhthaigh who has served on Fermanagh District Council for the past two years claimed he could no longer remain in Sinn Fein as it was now part of an Assembly Executive which is “implementing cuts, job losses and privatising public services”.

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin welcomed Mr O Cobhthaigh’s decision to join the Socialist Party today in Belfast:

“The Socialist Party seeks to build a movement of working and unemployed people in Northern Ireland in Protestant and Catholic communities against the attacks on jobs, wages and services which are being pursued by big business and the parties in the Assembly. We warmly welcome Domhnall as a valuable member of the Socialist Party and look forward to building a genuine socialist alternative in Fermanagh for working people and youth.”

Jim Barbour of the Fire Brigades’ Union, welcoming Mr O Coghthaigh’s decision claimed:

“There is an urgent need to develop a cross-community anti-sectarian political alternative for workers who are facing massive job losses and attacks on wages, terms and conditions. It is nothing short of a disgrace that while the banks are bailed out to the tune of billions, ordinary working people are paying the price for their crisis. Domhnall’s decision today is a welcome development in building a socialist voice for workers. We are also working closely alongside our colleagues in Britain campaigning for a new mass party to represent working class people who have been long abandoned by New Labour.”

Mr O Cobhthaigh also stated that he has resigned his council seat. “Despite my happy experience in working with the communities of Erne West and Enniskillen in demanding improvements, I feel it would be indefensible to retain a council seat to which I have not been elected (I was co-opted to the seat in 2007). Therefore, I have decided to resign from my seat on Fermanagh District Council.

Why I have resigned from Sinn Fein to join the Socialist Party

Councillor Domhnall Ó Cobhthaigh resigns from Sinn Féin and Fermanagh District Council – 3rd September 2009

“I have decided to resign from Sinn Fein after a period of careful reflection. Over the past twelve years I have worked tirelessly to develop Sinn Féin as an engine of change. Leaving is a very difficult decision given the many friends I am leaving behind in the party.

“I consider that the current economic crisis has brought to antagonism the contradiction between the nationalist and socialist agendas within Sinn Féin. I have struggled for many years to promote the agenda of community empowerment and opposition to neo-liberal economics but realise that I cannot now usefully continue that within Sinn Féin. As a result I have decided to resign my party membership.

“Despite my happy experience in working with the communities of Erne West and Enniskillen in demanding improvements, I feel it would be indefensible to retain a council seat to which I have not been elected (I was co-opted to the seat in 2007). Therefore, I have decided to resign from my seat on Fermanagh District Council.

“Over the past year, I have come to understand that the Assembly system itself only reinforces the sectarian divisions within our society. All five mainstream parties are doing little more than overseeing the long-term administration of senior civil servants and their right-wing agenda. While I still have the greatest of respect for many of my former colleagues within Sinn Féin, I cannot see how they will change this significantly in the context of the current framework of governance.

“I welcome the fact that we now live largely free from violence. I believe that working class people played a key role in what became known as the peace process through their opposition to sectarian violence. Today however deep sectarian divisions remain and low level sectarian violence continues. The main Assembly parties have a shared right-wing economic agenda. Their policies of cuts and privatisation only cement sectarian division.

“I also want to use this opportunity to unambiguously reaffirm my opposition to all groups who would wish to take us backwards to conflict or who would further increase divisions between sections of the working-class.

Looking forward for change

“I wish to play my part in building a cross-community working-class platform to oppose the cutbacks which are being forced on working people to pay for the bailouts for the super-rich and which leave Fermanagh communities suffering from second-class provision right across the board.

“Over the past two years I have learnt that there are very many people who share my commitment to fundamental change. I know that the effects of the current downturn are impacting on all but I am aware of their particular impact on young people who are leaving education only to struggle to find employment. The mainstream parties do not deliver and cannot deliver for working class and young people. As a result, there is a growing gap between all the mainstream parties and the majority of people, particularly the working class.

“I am convinced that change can only come about if working, unemployed and young people themselves organise to challenge the status quo. We have seen the power of effective local campaigns in fighting against health cutbacks and against the imposition of water charges. The sad truth is if we are waiting for change to come at the hands of any of the mainstream parties, then we will wait a long time indeed. Working people must organise themselves against cuts and to defend jobs.

“Having looked around I am convinced that the Socialist Party offers a platform from which to build such campaigns and is determined to achieve fundamental change in the way society is organised. I am now committed to working alongside party members in building the party in Fermanagh to struggle alongside workers and our communities at every possibility.”

“As a first step in building this, I will be organising an open night in Enniskillen Library to discuss the reasons for my leaving Sinn Féin and the way forward for resisting the Assembly’s agenda of austerity.”

Special financial appeal to all readers of

Support building alternative socialist media provides a unique analysis and perspective of world events. also plays a crucial role in building the struggle for socialism across all continents. Capitalism has failed! Assist us to build the fight-back and prepare for the stormy period of class struggles ahead.
Please make a donation to help us reach more readers and to widen our socialist campaigning work across the world.

Donate via Paypal

Liked this article? We need your support to improve our work. Please become a Patron! and support our work
Become a patron at Patreon!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


September 2009