MAYOR of Tralee Pat Hussey, who quit the Fine Gael party following a row over election candidate gender quotas, says he still feels hurt by his treatment and is yet to decide if he will run as an independent candidate in May's local elections.
After 35 years as a member of Fine Gael, Mayor Hussey left the party because he claimed a gender quota directive from party bosses blocked his nomination to contest the local elections.
At Fine Gael's Tralee selection convention, it was decided on of the three candidates chosen would have to be a woman. With sitting county councillors Jim Finucane and Pat McCarthy guaranteed selection the third place on the ballot had to go to one of two female candidates, Cllr Grace O'Donnell or Cllr Mairead Fernane. The convention delegates selected Cllr O'Donnell as their third candidate.
The imposition of the gender quota infuriated Cllr Hussey who said he had been deliberately forced out and prevented from running by his party.
Two weeks ago he announced he was quitting the party saying he felt he had been left no option but to leave.
"It was the party that left me not the other way around," he said. "I had no other option. There was no other choice. I was forced out it's a simple as that."
"I was a member of Fine Gael for over 35 years so obviously I'm very disappointed and hurt about what has happened," said Mayor Hussey.
While there has been widespread speculation that Mayor Hussey will run as an independent candidate at the local elections in May he told The Kerryman he still hasn't made up his mind and is weighing up his options.
"I'm betwixt and between at this stage. One of my the issues is just finding out the job description for councillors in the new set up. There's still a lot uncertainty about how the new system will work," he said.
"To be honest the other thing [the gender quota dispute] took a lot out of me. I'm taking some time to weigh up my options and I should have decided by the end of the month," he added.
Questioned about Cllr Hussey's decision to quit Fine Gael, Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said he had sympathy for any aspiring candidate who fails to get nominated and emphasised the need for gender quotas to get more women involved in politics.
"I'm sorry for any candidate who wants to go forward and fails to get a nomination. In every convention you go to, for every successful candidate there's going to be perhaps two or three who are disappointed," he said. "That's an unfortunate feature of politics but most of those people rebound and come back again That's what you have to do in politics."