Sinn Fein calls on Cavlan to vacate seat

SINN Fein has called on a Ballymoney councillor to vacate her seat after she walked away from the party.

Veteran councillor Anita Cavlan resigned last month over concerns it is failing republican prisoners.

She said she believed Sinn Fein had “lost direction” and “should be doing more to represent the prisoners”.

“Sinn Fein in my opinion has been slowly sedated and now has been rendered unconscious by the intoxication of an illusionary power to govern,” said the 62-year-old.

Ms Cavlan said the decision had left her “heartbroken” but she felt she had been left no option but to walk away from Sinn Fein and become an Independent member of Ballymoney Borough Council.

“It is not that I support dissident activity,” she said.

“I would hate it to go back to the way it was. There were a lot of lives lost in all sections of the community.

“There are those still amongst us who will insist that continued military action is the only way to achieve a united Irish republic.

“I disagree with them but I will not torture and abuse them if they are imprisoned.”

Ms Cavlan also dismissed Sinn Fein’s calls for the urgent release of dissident republican Marian Price as “weak”.

In a statement released on Friday Sinn Fein called for Ms Cavlan to vacate her Ballymoney seat.

“We are disappointed at the decision of Ms Cavlan to resign from Sinn Fein,” it said.

“We are particularly surprised at her criticisms of our approach to resolving the ongoing situation in Maghaberry Prison.

“Sinn Fein has visited the prison and met with the protesting prisoners and prison officials on many occasions. We have made and continue to make representations for an immediate end to strip searching and controlled movement within the prison.

“Anyone who was at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis last weekend left in no doubt what our position is and what the party is doing to resolve the situation in the prisons.

“In common with all other party representatives when elected as a Sinn Fein councillor Ms Cavlan signed a pledge to give up the seat in the event of resigning from the party. Anita Cavlan should honour this pledge and stand down from Ballymoney Council and allow a Sinn Fein co-option in line with the wishes expressed by the electorate in the Bushvale electoral ward last year.”