Saoradh, the Irish republican party formed last September, has experienced a serious split with the resignation of 23 members from its Belfast branch.
The dispute follows the expulsion of Harry Fitzsimons, the former chairperson in the city, who was forced from the party following a series of internal arguments between the local membership and the national leadership.
Saoradh insisted Mr Fitzsimons had been “afforded due process” in accordance with the party constitution.
Among those who have quit are the acting chairperson, Tarlach McDhonaill, and secretary Damhnaic Mac Eochaidh.
The members who quit accused Saoradh leaders of operating a process like “a kangaroo court” in their expulsion of Mr Fitzsimons.
They accused some leaders of laziness and elitism, viewing themselves “as superior, with superior knowledge, superior ability and superior wisdom while contributing nothing to the day-to-day running of the party” and dismissing “other Saoradh members as insignificant and inferior”.
The resignations will come as a blow to Saoradh, which has experienced continuous harassment by the British authorities and whose Belfast offices were raided in recent weeks. However, the split doesn’t involve other areas outside the city.
In a statement, Saoradh said it “investigates all matters, including that of its members’ conduct, which comes to the attention of the party, impartially and with respect to the member’s rights in accordance with the party’s constitution”.
The party said it would “not be distracted from the revolutionary path it has embarked upon; be it by the deliberate opportunism of sections of the media or by the naive or deliberate actions of individuals”.
Sinn Fein has also had its own share of internal turmoil in recent weeks, with a number of incidents involving allegations of bullying.
A Westmeath Sinn Fein councillor claimed this week that “bullying is rife” in the party. Prominent councillor Paul Hogan said he has been the victim of intense bullying since October 2015 and that there is a ‘constant whispering campaign’ against him by some members.
The Athlone-based representative says he has received a death threat, been the victim of an anonymous hate mail campaign and subjected to at least one ‘kangaroo court’.
Mr Hogan, who was first elected 13 years ago, alleges that he was accused of “insidious and vile allegations” following a relationship break-up, and that an inquiry found all of those allegations to be untrue.
He also claimed that during the last General Election, Sinn Fein management withdrew all resources from his campaign and tried to hide posters and literature.
Cllr Hogan says that the party’s disciplinary committee failed to deal with the issues raised in an official complaint and that the 20 month “ordeal” has had a very negative impact on his health.
“Bullying is rife within Sinn Fein and I can give many examples of same. The vast majority of Sinn Fein members are good people, but there are some who are allowed to sully Republicanism in the most anti-Republican manner,” he said.
In April the resignation of Sorcha O’Neill, a representative for Naas, County Kildare, and five other party activist caused another crisis for the party organisation after she said her complaints were ignored by the Sinn Fein hierarchy.
There have been other recent controversies, most notably in Cork where two councillors resigned, and former TD Sandra McLellan alleged she was bullied out of her positions. Sinn Fein has also had problems over recent months in Wicklow where councillors have fought over who should be the local group leader.
Sinn Fein says its national investigations committee has dealt with the allegations and that it had done all in its power to heal the rifts within the various constituencies.