Saturday 21 October 2017

Ridge quits Fine Gael after losing party whip

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

A FINE Gael councillor who received donations from corrupt lobbyist Frank Dunlop resigned from her party last night.

Cllr Therese Ridge had lost the party whip after an internal disciplinary procedure carried out in the wake of the Mahon Tribunal report.

However, last night Fine Gael confirmed that Ms Ridge had resigned from the party. She had been a councillor since being elected to Dublin County Council in 1985.

A party spokeswoman responded to Ms Ridge's criticism of its disciplinary procedures by saying they were "robust".

"Cllr Therese Ridge had 30 days to appeal and she failed to do so," she said.

The Mahon report stated that Ms Ridge received a cash donation of IR£1,000 from Dunlop during her 1992 General Election campaign. He also paid for printing costs for her campaign.

At the time, Dunlop was lobbying councillors to support the Quarryvale shopping project in Dublin on behalf of developer Owen O'Callaghan.

The tribunal found the payments accepted by Ms Ridge were "entirely improper" and compromised the requirement on her to discharge her duties as a councillor in a disinterested fashion.

But in a statement yesterday, Ms Ridge said she was leaving the party because she could not get fair procedures. She included a newspaper cutting that quoted Fine Gael party leader and president Enda Kenny as saying he accepted the disciplinary findings against her.

Fair

"I see little point in proceeding with such an appeal because clearly no fair procedures could apply in such a case. Any element of fair procedures has been severely curtailed because of the public acceptance of the findings of the disciplinary committee by the president of Fine Gael," she stated.

Fine Gael wanted her to resign from several committees, including her position as chair of the South Dublin County Council's transport committee. But the party said her term on these committees had ended last month, so it would not be taking further action.

Fine Gael Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell was also investigated by her party after the Mahon Tribunal criticised her "inappropriate" decision to accept a IR£500 donation from Dunlop in 1992 when she was a Dublin county councillor.

But the party said afterwards she was exonerated of any complaint. It found that while her actions were inappropriate in the light of what is now known, she had not brought the party into any disrepute.

Irish Independent

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