A MOYLE Sinn Fein councillor, who dramatically resigned from the party, claimed one of her reasons was because of a “culture of bullying”.
At the end of the full Council meeting on Monday night (October 14), Council Chief Executive Richard Lewis said he had earlier been handed a letter from Cllr McKillop saying she was no longer a member of Sinn Fein and she wished to now sit as an Independent councillor.
Up to that point there had been no formal discussion at the meeting about the developments although at one stage Cllr McKillop came into the meeting and moved her nameplate from the Sinn Fein benches and repositioned it between Independents Seamus Blaney and Padraig McShane.
Then, and although there had still been no mention of the matter to the full Council meeting, claims that the councillor had resigned began to emerge on social network site Twitter.
Cllr McKillop did not comment at the main Council meeting and left before Mr Lewis announced that she was becoming an Independent.
The only Sinn Fein councillor present at that stage, the Council Chairperson Cllr Cara McShane, did not wish to comment on the matter when asked by the Ballymoney & Moyle Times.
Today (Tuesday October 15) in the Irish News it was reported that Cllr McKillop - a 42-year-old mother-of-three had resigned from Sinn Fein saying she was “tormented” by recent decisions by its leadership including its stance on abortion.
She was a member of Sinn Fein for eleven years and represented the Glens electoral area since 2011.
The councillor told the paper she had taken “careful consideration” before making her decision and claimed Sinn Fein had taken “decisions that serve a narrow party interest ahead of the common good.”
Cllr McKillop said: “I have been tormented by the decisions the party has made on behalf of the people I represent. I have expressed my unease with senior party figures both locally and regionally and my concerns have been met with indifference.”
The councillor claimed she was unable to establish a “mechanism to question party policy”.
She added: “Instead a culture of bullying and innuendo accompanied any desire to engage in reasoned political debate.”
And the councillor added: “Instructions are delivered from the leadership in a series of meetings and are to be carried out without examination or query.”
Cllr McKillop also said Sinn Fein’s position on abortion was a key factor in her decision to resign.
“The disciplining of Peadar Toibin, a Sinn Fein TD, after his refusal to back pro-abortion legislation in the south, coupled with the party’s support for private abortions at the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast has challenged my perception on rights, particularly of the unborn,” said Cllr McKillop.