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Deselected Sinn Féin man

(William Graham, Irish News)

A Sinn Féin assembly member who has been "deselected" by his own party from fighting the next election may consider running as an independent.

Davy Hyland (51) told The Irish News he was surprised and saddened when he received notification of his deselection by text message while on holiday abroad.

He has been involved in republican politics in the Newry area for 25 years and has served 14 as a

public representative – as a councillor from 1993, including as chair of Newry and Mourne council and an assembly member since 2003.

A spokesman for Newry/Armagh Sinn Féin said an election convention was held in Mullaghbawn in south Armagh on Monday night and the names of those selected will now go forward to the party's Ard Comhairle for ratification.

No comment was offered by Sinn Féin about Mr Hyland's deselection.

It comes at a time of continuing rumours that some Sinn Féin members are uncomfortable with the direction the party leadership is taking on policing.

North Belfast assembly member Kathy Stanton announced last week that she is not seeking selection for the assembly elections planned for next year, although she said it was for family reasons and she supports the leadership on policing.

The names of those selected by Sinn Féin in Newry/Armagh have not been released but it is understood that one of the possible candidates is Michael Brady.

Mr Hyland yesterday (Tuesday) said he was "unhappy" at the deselection.

The father-of-two said the reason he was not at the election convention was because his holiday had been arranged some time ago, and he had tried to get the date changed but it was refused.

He confirmed, however, that he had been experiencing some differences within Sinn Féin and he "was not happy".

Mr Hyland claimed there is not enough debate within the party.

"If you don't absolutely toe the line or if you have any disagreement… it seems a black mark may be put against your name," he added.

"There are people out there who see this all being choreographed by the Sinn Féin leadership and that it is only a matter of time before the Sinn Féin ard fheis is called and a decision made to back policing arrangements," he said.

Mr Hyland said his own view was "if you accept policing you are really accepting the statelet".

He also said his personal experience of policing was "not entirely happy" and he shared the concerns of those who believe there are major implications for republicanism and the republican base.

In the mid-1980s Mr Hyland appeared in court accused of murdering former RUC Inspector Albert White but the case collapsed after IRA man Eamon Collins withdrew statements made to police.

He said he accepted there had to be policing arrangements in the future, but there must be open discussion.

Mr Hyland, a schoolteacher since 1979 including a decade at Rathmore grammar in Belfast, said he is now considering his political future.

December 21, 2006

This article appeared first in the December 20, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News