Former Sinn Féin TDs say party didn’t let them pick staff

Two former Sinn Féin TDs have claimed the party has not allowed its Dáil MPs to choose their own staff to work with them at Leinster House.

eadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan, who both left Sinn Féin over its stance on abortion five years ago, said party officials had not given them their opinion on the staff they had hiring. This is a departure from the practice usually employed by most other political parties in the Dáil, which allow their TDs and senators to recruit their own staff.

This follows similar claims by Clare TD Violet-Anne Wynne, who resigned from Sinn Féin last week.

Ms Wynne claimed Sinn Féin was ‘gaslighting’ her through ‘psychological warfare’ and alleged the party pressured her to hire certain staff.

She further claimed that the party did not support her enough during her maternity leave and used her “unplanned pregnancy” as “an extra stick to beat me with”.

Mr Tóibín, a longtime TD from Meath West who is now the leader of Aontú, told the Irish Independent“In my day, the staff was actually selected for me without my input at all in the beginning. For the vast majority of that time, the staff was chosen independent of my input. This would have been considered a party skill rather than a TD.

Mr Tóibín was first elected to the Dáil in 2011.

Ms Nolan, who is a freelance TD for Laois Offaly, said she acknowledged Ms Wynne’s comments through her own experience in Sinn Féin after her first election to the Dáil in 2016. It was the same as my experience,” she said.

“When the staff was selected, I didn’t participate in the interview panel at all, which I imagine I should. If a staff member is suggested, you should surely sit on the interview panel.

Mr. Tóibín and Ms. Nolan both resigned in 2018 following the party’s decision to support the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

In her resignation statement last Thursday, Ms Wynne said: ‘I was pressured to make decisions I couldn’t bear, such as which staff the party wanted me to hire. I learned very quickly that the party does not appreciate autonomy and those who do not follow their plans.

Addressing the Sunday Independent Last weekend Ms Wynne said she was having difficulty with the staff the party had assigned to her and claimed they had in some cases ‘dictated’ the number of parliamentary questions it would be appropriate to submit and on what topics she should speak in the Dáil.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: ‘All Sinn Féin TDs are responsible for the recruitment, employment and management of their own staff.

“Some DTs seek the help of the party’s human resources department to advertise positions and arrange interviews. Others oversee this process themselves. This is entirely the business of each TD.

Ms Wynne revealed on Twitter yesterday that she had received a gift bag from Ms McDonald. She posted a photo of the gift along with what appeared to be a message she had sent to Ms McDonald describing how ‘heartbroken’ she was that she had to quit. In the post, she wonders why action wasn’t taken sooner before she stepped down and was taught a lesson to ‘never meet your hero’.

Among other parties contacted about their recruitment practices, Fine Gael and the Social Democrats said their TDs and senators had hired their own staff.

Joseph K. Bennett