Thursday 8 December 2016

Fianna Fáil plunged into another gender row after Wexford selection convention

Published 04/12/2015 | 20:25

Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan.
Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan.

Fianna Fáil has been plunged into another gender row after adding a female candidate to its election ticket in Wexford.

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The party has tonight selected Aoife Byrne to run alongside councillors Malcolm Byrne and James Browne.

However, Cllr Michael Sheehan told independent.ie that after 16 years “working tirelessly for the party” it “counts for nothing”. He is now considering his future in Fianna Fáil.

Party chiefs caused local uproar after they split the constituency using an east-west divide for the selection convention in October, meaning Gorey-based Byrne was guaranteed a place on the ticket.

Four other candidates, including Cllr Browne who is the son of sitting TD John Browne and Cllr Sheehan, had to fight a vote for the second spot.

In a statement tonight, chairman of Fianna Fáil’s National Constituencies Committee Michael Moynihan said the ticket in Wexford is now complete.

He said Ms Byrne will work with the two councillors “to maximise the party’s vote”.

“I know that together, Aoife, James and Malcolm will run a highly energetic and formidable campaign and provide excellent representation for the people of Wexford,” he said.

In response Cllr Sheehan said: “After 16 years of working tirelessly for the party, successfully contesting every election since 1999, operating a full time constituency office at my own expense and delivering for my area and county, running a food bank and programmes for the people, relentlessly working for and defending the party locally and nationally in successive campaigns, it is clear to me that all of that counts for nothing.

“I am bitterly disappointed by this decision, the reasons which HQ couldn't explain, I am appalled at the level of disrespect and disregard shown to the members of the organisation,” he said.

“As the area has no candidates of any party, I feel the people of New Ross have been left down. 

“People are rightfully disgusted and furious; over the next couple of days I, like them, will be taking stock, considering all options.”

Fianna Fail is already dealing with a major split in Longford after it imposed a female candidate. Local members held an unofficial meeting on Wednesday night to debate the issue.

Ms Byrne is a native of Fethard-on-Sea on the Hook Peninsula and has been living in Wexford town for the last 15 years.

The bank official is the Chairperson of Wexford Drama Festival and is a member of Wexford Marine Watch.

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