There were somewhat shocked scenes at the sitting of Clones Town Council on Monday evening last, as Fine Gael elected member Yvonne Newell informed the chamber of her intention to resign from the party.
Her reason for the decision, as she read out from a carefully pre-prepared statement: “is based on my firm Catholic beliefs and my belief in God and therefore being answerable to only him. I am unable to reconcile my faith and the shocking passing of the abortion law forced through by Taoiseach Enda Kenny undermines my most personal beliefs.”
Though the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, was passed, following referendum, on July 30 last year, Cllr Newell says her reason for delaying her announcement was as a result of “a genuine desire” to serve the people of the community who elected her.
As there was an application for funding for a Youth Café in Clones Town, Cllr Newell told her fellow elected members she “felt obliged” to stay on as a Fine Gael councillor to aid in the process of making the application successful.
In December 2013, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald provided €60,000 to upgrade the Youth Café in Clones Town which ill see major repair works carried out on the building, and provide young people with a place to socialise in a safe environment.
Cllr Newell thanked Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys for her assistance, and of her “gratitude” to her in achieving the funding for Clones.
“I am now ready to do as I have wished since August and will now serve the people as an Independent candidate. I wish to send my dearest thanks to the Fine Gael as a Party and organisation for enabling me the opportunity to serve my community," concluded Cllr Newell.
Cllr Newell was unable to be contacted for comment on Tuesday, while the Fine Gael party headquarters refused to comment as to whether a formal letter of resignation had been received by them from the Clones Town Cllr who was elected at the last local elections in 2009.
Despite this, tributes have arrived from members within the Party.
Fellow Fine Gael Town Cllr Peter Mulligan thanked Cllr Newell for her work during the meeting and wished her well in the future, while Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Heather Humphreys praised Cllr Newell as “a very dedicated and hardworking councillor. She has always done her best for the people of Clones”.
She added: “I am very sorry to see a person of such ability and commitment to her community leave the party but I obviously respect her decision.”