Saturday 1 October 2016

Fianna Fáil is rocked by sexism allegations

Published 18/04/2015 | 02:30

The party is also dealing with a formal objection from Kildare councillor Fiona O'Loughlin after she narrowly lost out to sitting TD and party whip Sean O Fearghail at a selection convention
The party is also dealing with a formal objection from Kildare councillor Fiona O'Loughlin after she narrowly lost out to sitting TD and party whip Sean O Fearghail at a selection convention

Fianna Fáil is investigating claims of "sexism" made by a poll-topping female councillor, the Irish Independent can reveal.

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Cavan councillor Niamh Smyth stormed out of a council meeting on Monday, having railed against what she described as "a string of unfair treatment and outrageous behaviour".

The party is also dealing with a formal objection from Kildare councillor Fiona O'Loughlin after she narrowly lost out to sitting TD and party whip Sean O Fearghail at a selection convention.

Ms O'Loughlin has recently questioned the party's commitment to the introduction of the gender quota. She said that while the party leadership insists the party needs more women candidates, the reality is different at grassroots level.

The party said that it is taking Ms Smyth's claims seriously and that "there is no place in Fianna Fáil for sexism or any other form of discrimination".

"Cllr Smyth has spoken with the general secretary and shared her concerns. The issues are being taken seriously and are currently being looked into," a party spokesman said.

Ms Smyth told the meeting she has endured months of poor treatment and directed much of her ire at current council chairperson Shane O'Reilly.

Ms Smyth topped the poll in 2009 and 2014 and was left raging after her motion to do with a 1916 commemoration was withdrawn without her being informed. She only found out minutes before a previous council meeting commenced.

"This was the last straw," she said. "I will not be silenced any more." She demanded to know how exactly her motion was removed. She also suggested that her gender may have played a part in her treatment.

"I would hate to think that my gender had anything to do with the way in which I have been mistreated over your mishandling of the agenda. I am absolutely certain that if this happened to any of the men, you would be facing a motion of no confidence," she said to Cllr O'Reilly.

Cllr O'Reilly said he had no comment on the matter when contacted by the Irish Independent.

Cavan County Council said it was not normal for the motion to be removed but that the matter had been explained to Cllr Smyth and an apology given. The council said it rejected any suggestion of sexism.

Irish Independent

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