Curran contemplates ‘death blow’ Westminster challenge

March 23, 2015

The recently resigned Independent Councillor of Newry and Mourne District Council, Brendan Curran, has revealed he is considering contesting the forthcoming Westminster election, in a direct challenge to his former Sinn Fein colleagues.

Curran, who was first elected as a Sinn Fein Councillor in 1985 and became the party’s first chairman in 1998, has announced the possibility of going head-to-head against his former party colleague, Mickey Brady, as an independent republican candidate, following a stormy exit from his final Council meeting last Monday night.

The ex-republican prisoner left Sinn Fein in 2013 after claiming he was the victim of a sustained campaign of “isolation and bullying” by certain factions of the local party. He has accused his former Sinn Fein colleagues of acting “disgracefully” at last Monday night’s committee meeting by refusing to allow him to make a formal resignation speech and staging a dramatic walkout as he spoke.

Mr Curran has called for a meeting with Gerry Adams to explain why Sinn Fein chairman Mickey Ruane attempted to prevent him from speaking by closing the meeting and to investigate what he described as a “an ongoing campaign of bullying and isolation” against him and his family by Newry Sinn Fein – which he alleged was being run by a “domineering clique controlled by a Stakeknife-type character”.

He also plans to discuss with the Sinn Fein leader the serious allegations he made during his outgoing speech which include the claim that Sinn Fein helped to cover up the sexual abuse of “hundreds” of schoolchildren in the Newry and Mourne area by forcing him to “drop the issue” when he raised concerns 10 years ago.  During his bombshell diatribe he also went on to allege that Newry Sinn Fein leadership misled members about the murder of Newry man Eoin Morley in 1990.

Speaking to The Examiner, Mr Curran confirmed he had received acknowledgement from Sinn Fein of his request for a meeting with the party leader and said his family would present Mr Adams with a list of their claims regarding Newry Sinn Fein before the meeting to allow him to carry out a proper investigation.

“This all needs to be done in advance of this election,” he said.  “I am seriously considering being a contender in the Westminster election to expose what is going on with Newry Sinn Fein. I have been inundated with messages of support since the video of Monday night’s meeting went viral [on social media], showing how shamefully Sinn Fein councillors behaved.  I’m very grateful for the support because I could have been isolated, which is what the local party have been doing to me and my family for years.”

Mr Curran vowed to “stand up” for people like the Swim Fit employees who recently lost their jobs due to the Council’s decision to remove private hire organisations from the new swimming pool.

The former councillor, who is set to take up a Council post as lifeguard in the new pool, told The Examiner he believes the decision to remove the swim schools was a “blind attack” against him due to his longstanding association and affiliation with Swim Fit.

Elaborating on the issue, he said: “What we’re claiming is that not only am I and my family being targeted, but anybody who is friendly with us is being targeted as well and that’s the whole basis of this swimming pool dispute, where they have just removed 25 young people from their jobs.”

He further alleged that the move was the latest in a long line of “discriminatory tactics” against him citing the Council’s decision to drop his security company’s “hugely successful” dog warden and community warden pilot schemes in recent years as “an attack against me by Sinn Fein”.

“The whole issue goes much further,” he said, before claiming that a Notice of Motion he intended to raise at last Monday night’s meeting requesting that the current Council call on the new Council to reverse their decision to remove the swim schools was blocked after he was notified by a senior Council official of a “legal issue” with the motion.

“[The official] cited a conflict of interests due to my association with the swimming pool and then informed me that because, during my interview for my new role as lifeguard in Newry Leisure Centre, I had mentioned that I had covered some lessons for Swim Fit as far back as 2010, that association created a conflict of interests which would prevent me raising the motion.

“It is an absolute scandal that data protected information from a job interview I carried out the previous week as a private individual was taken and used against me as a Councillor to debar me from putting forward a motion.  My human rights have been absolutely breached,” he claimed.

Referring to the video footage of Monday’s tumultuous meeting, which has been shared by more than 8,000 people, Mr Curran said it was clear to see that Sinn Fein had acted “shamefully” in walking out while he was delivering his resignation speech.

“The mask has slipped,” he said,  “Now people can see them for what they really are.  The Sinn Fein spin is that the meeting was over but in fact, and the video corroborates this, Mickey Ruane ended the meeting in the face of me calling a point of order.  My point of order was that I wanted to resign. I actually legally had to resign on Monday in order to take up my new post on Wednesday,” he explained, before accusing Councillor Terry Hearty of calling for the walkout, which was then led by Mayor Daire Hughes.

Asked what he hoped to resolve in a meeting with Gerry Adams, Mr Curran said he wanted “the vendetta to stop.”

“This campaign against me is punishing other people – people are losing their jobs over this,” he said.

“Newry Sinn Fein have been exposed in the public forum of last week’s meeting. Any councillor who has served his community for over 40 years should have been allowed the grace and the dignity to resign. The fact that I was not is a total disgrace and a travesty to have occurred in front of my children, who were present at the meeting.

“I’ve been isolated by the local party for a long time and myself and my family received no support from Sinn Fein over the years, especially in the face of ongoing harassment and intimidation by the RUC and the British Army because of my republican standing.  That’s why my children have taken the step of writing to the papers to expose the lack of support given to the Curran family.

“I’ve never had more support than I do now as a result of what these people have been doing and, if I do stand as a Westminster candidate, with the stacking up of the candidates in this area, it could be a death blow for Sinn Fein.”