Sinn Féín TDs have “zero” influence over the party’s policy decisions, according to a former representative, and TDs are told what to do by unelected party staff.
In fact, Peadar Tóibín says, Sinn Féin’s TDs are not even allowed to chose their own parliamentary assistants and must represent the party rather than the people who elected them.
The Aontú leader, who was forced out of Sinn Féin along with Carol Nolan TD because of his pro-life views, told the Independent that party staff “have too much power over the organisation and regularly seek to influence the outcome of internal elections”.
Deputy Tóibín said organisers regularly tell cumanns who to vote for ahead of elections and also seek to influence the outcome of motions being voted on by local branches, according to the report.
He said decisions were made by a “very tight circle” of six or seven people and are then “handed down” to TDs.
One commentator on Twitter described the revelation as “voting for someone in the shadows”.
I well believe it. Sinn Féin is like a cult. People need to realise that they are actually voting, not for the SF candidate but for someone in the shadows. That's spooky. https://t.co/CJZRop9NPx
— allovernow (@allovernow2010) January 28, 2020
Sinn Féin has previously been accused of being a secretive and tightly controlled organisation and of being too much under the influence of members of the IRA Army Council.
Deputy Tóibín also said that TDs had been forced by the party through heavy-handed parliamentary assistants into giving speeches supporting policy decisions when they, in fact, did not support the policy.
The TD actually decided to give a speech in Irish so that the policy wouldn’t be associated with her, he told the Independent.
Mr Toibin said that on another occasion TDs sought to have a debate within the party over a proposal to ban religious ethos in schools. However, they were told that the party position was already decided.
“The decision was obviously pre-written before the TDs had asked to have a discussion so at that point it was quite clear to me that my influence as a TD representing the people of Meath was pretty much zero,” he said.
The Aontú leader also spoke of his frustration a RTÉ;s decision to exclude his party Aontú from last night’s televised leader’s debate.
“We have received more votes than the Social Democrats in the by-elections. We are just one Dáil seat behind them. We received more votes than People Before Profit in the locals and the by-elections,” Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín said
Aontú has 26 candidates running in the election which will take place on February 8th.