Saturday 24 August 2019

Councillor wants complaint reviewed after sexism Twitter storm

Fine Gael’s Fiona McLoughlin Healy
Fine Gael’s Fiona McLoughlin Healy
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A councillor has called for complaints investigated by Fine Gael's Disciplinary Committee to be reviewed in light of the controversy of Barry Walsh's social media activity.

Kildare representative Fiona McLoughlin Healy said officials should look back at cases "for any evidence of inconsistent outcomes".

Ms McLoughlin Healy has been involved in a series of disputes with fellow councillors and last year lost the party whip on Kildare County Council.

She was the subject of a complaint by a member of Fine Gael last year and was interviewed by the National Executive's Disciplinary Committee for allegedly bringing the party into dispute.

Mr Walsh, who last week resigned from the executive amid controversy over his use of social media, was one of five people to make a decision.

The row between Ms McLoughlin Healy and other politicians in Kildare erupted after she claimed her colleagues actively tried to prevent her from doing her job on the council.

She placed a motion of no confidence in the then mayor Brendan Weld, which was defeated by 30 votes to just her one.

When the row was probed by party officials the councillor says she described a "boys' club" within Fine Gael. Ultimately, though, she lost the party whip.

Mr Walsh stood down from the National Executive after it emerged that he posted a number of misogynist tweets online, calling politicians including Mary Lou McDonald "bitches".

Prior to losing the whip, the councillor made her own official complaint to Fine Gael headquarters.

"Six months later, frustrated by the lack of any progress re the investigation of my complaint, I contacted the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

"I informed him of bad behaviour by Fine Gael members in Kildare ranging from blocking me unilaterally and without consultation from committees in which I had an interest, to the groups failure to support my motions in the council," she told the Irish Independent.

A spokesperson for Fine Gael said all decisions and determinations of the Disciplinary Committee were taken on a collective basis.

"Where sanctions are imposed, the person who is subject of such sanctions is entitled to appeal the decision (as Cllr McLoughlin Healy did, when the Whip was removed from her). Appeals are heard by the full Executive Council (excluding those members who are on the Disciplinary Committee).

"Decisions of the Executive Council in relation to Appeals are regarded as final."

The spokesman added that the party did not intend to revisit any case that had concluded.

Irish Independent

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