18 January 2007 Edition
Davy Hyland resignation — the facts
Newry Comhairle Ceantair, Sinn Féin regrets the decision of former colleague, Davy Hyland, to resign from Sinn Féin but are angry at false claims and accusations he has made in the media since he failed to be selected by his fellow members.
In October 2006 all Sinn Féin members were instructed to prepare for possible Assembly elections in the coming six months. In November constituencies in the Six Counties, were directed to hold conventions to select Assembly candidates before the Christmas break. The national directorate requirement for notice for such conventions is 21 days notice, this in turn meant the week beginning 18 December was the earliest this could take place. Davy was informed of this 21 day requirement and that his name would automatically go on to the convention as a sitting MLA.
The venue was booked, the independent Chair invited and the membership notified. It was not until 6 December that Davy informed the Director of Elections that he would be on holidays on 18 December and requested that the date of the convention be changed. He stated he would be available on 23 and 24 December but was told these dates were not practical for a convention involving a range of prospective candidates and more than 250 delegates and that the convention would go ahead on 18 December.
Before he left for holiday on the 15 December, Davy Hyland returned to Sinn Féin a signed and completed questionnaire, standard to all potential candidates, confirming his support for and commitment to Sinn Féin and its policies.
At the convention on 18 December there were secret ballots to select candidates for each of the three areas in Newry/Armagh, the counting of ballots was overseen by the independent chairperson. Four prospective candidates put their names forward to represent Sinn Féin in the greater Newry area and of the 62 votes cast by delegates from that area Davy Hyland received three votes and came last of the four.
It would be an insult to inform anyone of their failure to be selected by text as reported in the Newry Reporter. The text Davy received informing him of the result was in direct response to one he himself sent and was not anonymous as he claimed.
A Sinn Féin member was formerly tasked to speak to Davy Hyland the day following the convention and had a 30-minute phone conversation with him discussing the convention and ongoing issues. Additionally a member of the Newry/Armagh Dáil Ceantair made repeated attempts to contact Davy on his return from holiday but the calls were not returned.
Far from Davy being “shocked” by the result of the convention, he briefed a local newspaper before he left for holidays as to the likely outcome. The paper contacted our Newry office before the convention to inform us that they were running a front-page story on Davy’s failure to be selected the following day.
Sinn Féin was also informed on Tuesday, 19 December that Davy Hyland had made contact with a BBC journalist staying at his hotel who was arranging for him to go on Talkback to “attack and damage” the party.
Davy Hyland’s claim that he was deselected as a result of his opposition to party strategy, particularly on policing, is false. The reality is that Davy lost the confidence of party members in the Newry area through his performance as an elected representative. This was reflected in the vote he received at the convention. No one in Sinn Féin ever heard Davy Hyland, publicly or privately, express concern or opposition to Sinn Féin policy or strategy on policing or any other matter. Nor has he ever expressed concern about the level of debate on these issues within the party. Indeed he chaired one such debate for activists in Newry in October 2006 following the St Andrews discussions during which he emphasised his support for and confidence in the Sinn Féin leadership. We can only conclude that he has latched on to this issue as a convenient excuse for his own shortcomings.
We also reject Davy Hyland’s assertion that he was forced to resign from the Council. He stated publicly at the time that he did this to promote the gender profile of the party and voiced his public support for Councillor Marian Mathers.
We regret very much Davy Hyland’s decision to resign from Sinn Féin and are hurt at the false accusations and insults he has made through the media since. They do no service to republicanism or to him as an individual.
Davy complains, falsely, that Sinn Féin are not listening to the grass roots but that is precisely what he is doing in attacking the overwhelming verdict of his peers at convention. It would be in his own interests to deal with the issues that caused the collapse of confidence in him among Sinn Féin activists rather than blaming us for his shortcomings.
Newry Cómhairle Ceanntair,
Republicans & policing
Any republicans anxious about the motion for the Sinn Féin Ardfheis on 28 January should be reassured by the fact that hardline DUP member Jim Allister, speaking outside his party leadership on the issue, is vehemently opposed to it on the grounds, in his words, that it “makes support for the PSNI conditional on its demands on powersharing government and devolution of policing and justice first being met.” Therefore, the Ardfheis motion can and should be supported. This will also maximise support for Sinn Féin and the socialist republican position for re-unification of a modern socialist and democratic Ireland in the 26 County general election this year.
(Formerly Secretary of the Campaign for the Birmingham Six, England).