Labour chairman Rodgers appears isolated as party back McBrearty

A veteran member of the Labour Party locally has rubbished claims that members of the party in Donegal south west are dissatisfied with Cllr Frank McBrearty.

A veteran member of the Labour Party locally has rubbished claims that members of the party in Donegal south west are dissatisfied with Cllr Frank McBrearty.

As an expected 20 to 25 party members were to meet last night in Glenties at a Constituency Council meeting, to discuss the fallout from a series of events linking independent Cllr Thomas Pringle to the party, one senior figure told the Democrat that the party is fully united behind Cllr McBrearty.

Seamus Carbin, from the Donegal Town branch of the Labour Party, refuted claims by his colleague Seamus Rodgers that party members were unhappy with Cllr McBrearty.

In the Donegal Democrat on Tuesday we reported that Mr Rodgers stated there was “dissatisfaction with Frank (McBrearty) within the Labour Party in the constituency.”

He had contacted the Democrat seeking clarification that a statement issued in support of Cllr McBrearty (carried in our Sunday edition) was not in fact issued by the Labour Party in Donegal south west.

The statement was in fact issued by the Labour Party at national level.

Asked had he a problem with the content of the statement in support of Cllr McBrearty, Mr Rodgers, a veteran of more than 50 years on the local political scene and the chairman of the Donegal South West Constituency Council, said he was reluctant to comment as the matter would be discussed at last night’s meeting of the Council. He did however, when pressed, state that there was “dissatisfaction” with Cllr McBrearty.

But on Wednesday Seamus Carbin, a Labour Party candidate in the last local elections, expressed surprise at Mr Rodger’s comments: “I’m surprised at the statement from Seamus Rodgers. As far as I and the other members of the Donegal branch are concerned, there is widespread support for Frank McBrearty and strong support for him to be our candidate in the general election.”

He revealed: “My wife, Maeve, is secretary of the Constituency Council and she was not aware of any dissatisfaction with Frank, she was also surprised to read this.”

He said people in the Glenties and Donegal branches of the party had canvassed extensively in the by-election for Cllr McBrearty and would do so again in the general election.

In a week where Cllr McBrearty claimed on Highland Radio that a small section of the local media are engaged in a witch hunt against him, Mr Carbin said he believed Cllr McBrearty had been getting a hard time from the media in general: “I don’t think he (Frank) has many friends in the media,” Mr Carbin stated. Asked to explain this comment he added: “When you listen to the line of questioning he gets, he’s been told he’s a bully, is ignorant with people, you don’t hear too many interviewers having a go like that at Mary Coughlan and her reputation for colourful language at times.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Thomas Pringle has stood by his claims that he was approached by a senior Labour Party figure George Cummins, and offered a Senate seat if he agreed to run as a Labour Party candidate in Donegal south west.

This claim of a Senate seat has been hotly refuted by the Labour Party. However, Mr Carbin accepted that Mr Cummins did speak to Cllr Pringle on the possibility of joining the party: “George and others would have approached between 20 to 30 people across the country who the party would have felt would be on the same wavelength on social policies. This was done in confidence and without the prior knowledge of the local branches as this means the approach can remain very private - it’s done in confidence - the less that know about the approach, the less chance of it coming out. I think all the parties work that way. However, no one else who was approached anywhere in the country broke the confidentiality of the approach. Thomas was the only one who did so.”

Asked were others in Donegal targeted by the party he replied: “Not that I know off.”

It’s expected a statement in relation to last night’s Constituency Council meeting in Glenties will be issued today (Thursday) by the Labour Party.