SINN Féin numbers at County Hall have dwindled to one following the resignation of Courtmacsherry-based councillor Paul Hayes from the party.
The party, which held 10 seats in the council back in 2014, now has just a single sitting councillor at County Hall.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Hayes, said he has been frustrated with the party for some months and the time off in lockdown gave him a chance to think things through and make the decision.
The Clonakilty native, who is married to his wife Gertie and has three children Tiernan, Lorcan and Nadine, said his family have been very supportive of the move to become an Independent councillor.
“The recent time off due to the Coronavirus has given me an opportunity to reassess a lot of aspects of my life, and to focus on the priorities for the future,” he said.
“This was an extremely hard decision to make, but one I hope is the right one for me personally.”
Mr Hayes, who has been a member of Sinn Féin since his teens and an elected Sinn Féin member of Cork County Council since 2014, said he had been becoming more and more frustrated and disillusioned with the party over the past few months and the final straw was not getting a nomination to the Seanad.
Mr Hayes said he intended to serve out his seat on the council until 2024 as an Independent councillor.
“The reaction to my decision has been very positive and supportive,” he said. “There have been a handful of people saying that it is a Sinn Féin seat and it should remain in the party, but I went into the election with a shoestring budget and 90% of the election campaign was financed by me.
“I also think the work I had done previously on the council over the past five years also stood to me and I think it is not unreasonable for me to keep my seat.”
The councillor, who, pre-coronavirus, worked part-time as a quality and training manager for the Bandon-based distributors of Java Republic coffee company, said he feels Sinn Féin head office needs to prioritise areas like Cork South West if it really wants to finally win a Dáil seat there.
“I also believe there is ample time from now until the next Local Elections to identify potential Sinn Féin candidates and build their profiles if the proper organisation and resources are put in place around them,” he said.
“Meanwhile, I will focus on my council work, tackling the issues of the day and the aftermath of this awful virus.
“I look forward to continuing to work for all of the people of West Cork in the challenging time ahead as an Independent councillor on Cork County Council.”