Danielle Twomey, Sinn Féin's only representative on Cork County Council, has resigned from the party.

Sinn Féin left unrepresented in county

Michael Olney

Sinn Féin has been left with no representation on Cork County Council after the party’s only elected representative announced she is leaving the party.

East Cork Cllr Danielle Twomey announced this week on social media that she had resigned from the party with immediate effect.

The decision follows Ms Twomey’s announcement in October that she would not be running for re-election in the upcoming 2024 local elections. She cited relentless online harassment and “backhanded moves” by members of her own party as contributing factors in her decision.

She said she would now see out her remaining weeks in her seat as an Independent councillor.

“The last year has taught me so much – one thing is, never allow any less than you deserve and always know your worth,” wrote Ms Twomey.

Ms Twomey’s resignation from Sinn Féin follows that of West Cork Cllr Paul Hayes in 2020 who has since continued as an Independent councillor.

Responding to Cllr Twomey’s departure, Dr Aodh Quinlivan, Director of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance at UCC, described it as “another blow for Sinn Féin in Cork county”.

“At the 2019 local elections, the party’s representation in County Hall fell dramatically from ten councillors to two. Now, both of those elected in 2019 have left Sinn Féin,” Dr Quinlivan told the Cork Independent.

“Hayes cited the lack of support from the party locally and nationally while Twomey spoke of being ‘subject to environments’ that didn’t respect or value her. It has been a difficult time for her,” he added.

Looking ahead to next year’s local elections, Dr Quinlivan said it is “quite staggering” that Sinn Féin is not represented in one of the country’s largest local authorities.

“One way of looking at this in the context of the 2024 local elections is that ‘the only way is up’ but perhaps there are deeper structural and/or cultural issues at play in terms of the party in county Cork,” said Mr Quinlivan.

“For example, it was instructive to hear Paul Hayes refer to the lack of local organisation and a haphazard approach when he resigned from the party.

“While Sinn Féin is stronger in the city, in this council term both Henry Cremin and Eolan Ryng vacated a seat; albeit they did not resign from the party and Cllr Orla O’Leary has subsequently been co-opted,” he added.

Sinn Féin is not the only party to see its members step down across Cork City and County Councils. East Cork Fine Gael Cllr Susan McCarthy announced in November that she would not be running next year. In May, Solidarity Cork City Cllr Fiona Ryan also announced her departure from the the city council.

Mr Quinlivan continued: “There is a wider issue of concern here as well, which extends beyond Sinn Féin – namely the difficulty in retaining councillors who are finding the work-load, demands on their time, lack of remuneration, and increasing levels of abuse a major impediment.”