Sligo Sinn Féin councillor, Sean MacManus, has dismissed speculation that he is about to resign from the party after two others councillors in the South quit the party last week.
Councillor MacManus has been one of the leading influences within Sinn Féin both at regional and national level over the past 15 years.
The story arose following the defection of Wexford Sinn Féin councillor, Jimmy Flemming, to Fianna Fail last week, and the resignation of Galway Councillor Danny Callanan.
Fianna Fail had also attempted to lure Flemming’s colleague in Wexford, Councillor Maurice Roche, in a move to isolate Sinn Féin’s General Election candidate, John Dwyer.
Sinn Féin’s only member of Galway City Council criticised the party leadership for his decision to quit.
He said the “final straw” came when local representatives were instructed to vote for certain candidates in the recent Senate elections. After he spoke up against the party leadership in a meeting over the decision, he said he was told he would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
“Everything’s being dumped for the sake of getting into power. We would do the same as the Greens if we have the numbers,” he said, speaking of the Green Party’s coalition arrangement with Fianna Fail earlier this summer.
He believes Sinn Féin now has an identity crisis in the 26 Counties since it went into power with the DUP in the North.
“The party leadership believed that the peace process in the North was going to carry them on a wave,” he said. “But what Sinn Féin is really offering is no different to what Fianna Fail are offering. They [Sinn Féin] are neglecting their working-class, left-wing vote.
“How can they be spouting left-wing policies in the South when they are in power in the North, with the support of big business?” he asked.
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the nature of local government, describing the city council as a “talking shop” while senior city officials were free to operate without accountability.
Meanwhile, a Castlereagh councillor has resigned from the DUP after being a party member for 23 years.
Charlie Tosh is the latest DUP member to leave the party since it entered power-sharing with Sinn Féin.
Mr Tosh said a disagreement with another DUP councillor had been the last straw.
However, he also said he was disappointed by pictures of First Minister Ian Paisley laughing with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness.
“I think that when one considers the atrocities that have been commited in Northern Ireland, I find myself in complete agreement with Jim Allister, that to see the ‘chuckle brothers’ together in government makes me ill,” he said.
Following the announcement, Mr Allister said Mr Tosh’s decision reflected the “unabated unease within unionism over DUP/Sinn Féin government”.
“Like many traditional unionists he has reached the measured conclusion that he cannot be a party to unrepentant terrorists in government,” he said.
“He will not be the last DUP public representative to take this honourable course.”