Sunday 25 September 2016

Fianna Fáil formally blocks Dublin councillor from contesting GE because of gender quotas

Niall O'Connor & Sam Griffin

Published 17/09/2015 | 18:56

Daithí de Róiste
Daithí de Róiste

A prominent Fianna Fail councillor has been blocked in his bid to contest the General Election because of his party's struggle to meet the controversial gender quota targets.

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In the first case of its kind since the introduction of the quotas, Dublin City councillor Daithi de Roiste has been formally told that his name cannot be considered by members at the upcoming selection convention.

The move leaves Catherine Ardagh, the daughter of a former TD, as the sole Fianna Fáil candidate in the Dublin South Central constituency.

In a letter to delegates in the Dublin South Central ward, Fianna Fáil General Secretary Sean Dorgan confirmed that the candidate being put forward should be female.

"Having considered the matter very carefully and consulted with the CDC Officer Board, the National Constituencies Committee has recommended that one candidate be selected at the convention and that the candidate selected be a woman," Mr Dorgan wrote.

Party sources unhappy about the decision likened it last night to a case of "gendermandering".

Chairman of the constituencies committee Michael Moynihan said:"These are difficult calls that have to be made in the interests of the party"

Ms Ardagh said the decision was made by the party, adding that she "feels for Daithi."

" I have a very good working relationship with Daithi and we have worked hard together on Dublin City Council," she said.

I now hope to get selected at the convention and work hard for the people of Dublin South Central,"she added.

The decision to block a male candidate from contesting a selection convention is illustrative of Fianna Fail's struggle to meet targets.

Under the rules introduced by the Coalition, 30pc of candidates put forward by political parties must be female. 

If this target is missed, parties face cuts in their State funding.

Speaking to the Independent.ie tonight, Mr de Roiste said the decision by the party sets an "unwelcome precedent".

"It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to be honest. Entering politics has always been about representing the people of Dublin South Central to the best of my ability," Mr de Roiste said.

"I believe in democracy and allowing people to vote for the candidate they want, not just because of their gender. So obviously I'm disappointed to be the only person in the country that this has happened to," he added.

Mr de Roiste was elected for the first time to Dublin City Council last year and was quickly appointed as chairperson of the city's Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

He finished ahead of Ms Ardagh, whose father Sean is a former TD, by several hundred votes.

Meanwhile, the party is expected to issue a similiar diktat to the Dublin Central ward tomorrow. This will likely pave the way for Mary Fitzpatrick to contest the election.

In Dublin Central members will be asked to select a female candidate which means Brian Mohan is pulling out of the selection convention on October 7.

 Former MEP Mary Fitzpatrick and party activist Denise McMorrow will now vie for selection.

"I'm bitterly disappointed to have to step down," Mr Mohan said.

"The National Convention Committee has basically issued a dictat to members without any regard for members' own thoughts. It's undemocratic.

"I received 10 nominations and got a really good response and was looking forward to the convention. But I will now work hard to support whichever of the two candidates is selected.

"It's particularly disappointing when the party says it wants new and fresh candidates. I'm very disappointed but there's no point getting angry about it and won't go throwing my toys out of the pram and will support whoever is selected."

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