Senior Sinn Fein figure begins discrimination case against party

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

A former hunger striker who until recent months was a senior Sinn Fein figure at Stormont is taking his party to a tribunal alleging discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Leo Green, whose departure as the party’s northern director was noticed after he failed to appear at February’s Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, has lodged the case against his party.

If the case is not settled privately, it could see some of Sinn Fein’s most closely-guarded secrets aired in public at a tribunal hearing and could see senior party figures such as Martin McGuinness called to give evidence.

In 2012 Sinn Fein chose to fight a libel action by former NI Water director Declan Gormley and ended up losing a protracted trial at an estimated cost of more than £300,000.

News of Mr Green’s case emerged this morning in the Irish News on the day that Martin McGuinness is to take his place at a Royal banquet for the first time. The paper described Mr Green as “a key player in Sinn Fein’s Stormont set-up since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement”.

The Department for Employment and Learning, which has responsibility for industrial and fair employment tribunals, confirmed that Mr Green — who was imprisoned in the 1970s for murdering a police officer — had lodged a case against his party.

The first set of allegations, which have been lodged with the Fair Employment Tribunal, claim discrimination because of Mr Green’s “political opinion”.

The second case, which has been lodged to be heard by an industrial tribunal, alleges “unfair dismissal” and “breach of contract”.

The department said that proceedings are at “a very early stage” and the cases have not yet been listed for hearings. It is possible that both sets of allegations could be heard by a single tribunal.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: “I can confirm that Leo Green has lodged a claim to the Industrial and Fair Employment tribunals.

“Sinn Féin will be contesting this. I do not want to say anything that will prejudice this case.”

In February, Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey dismissed claims that Mr Green had left over issues such as welfare reform: “There are no policy issues, because the people you are talking about remain in the party.”