Thursday 18 July 2019

Fianna Fáil's Longford convention is plunged into chaos over gender quota

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Liam Cosgrove

A Fianna Fáil selection convention descended into chaos as Connie Gerety-Quinn was confirmed as the general election candidate for Longford.

She was ratified by Chairman and Laois-Offaly TD Sean Fleming less than 24 hours after party headquarters announced it would be making a gender quota directive.

That was greeted with widespread animosity by a crowd of around 300 delegates, many of whom called for the convention to be adjourned. At one stage, a walk-out was threatened.

Two of the other remaining candidates, Cllr Seamus Butler and Pat O'Rourke, also hit out at the decision.

"What has happened here tonight is an absolute travesty," said a visibly upset Cllr Butler as he called on Ms Gerety to repeat her previous insistence that she would reject any gender ruling.

Ms Gerety did not speak, but Mr O'Rourke empathised with the position party bosses had left her in.

He said the ruling sent down by Fianna Fail's National Constituencies Committee would have wide-ranging repercussions for the party locally.

As he appealed to party delegates to refrain from walking out of the meeting, he said: "If you walk out that door, it is my view the good work of Albert (Reynolds) and Peter Kelly (former TD) will be undone forever.

"Shame on headquarters. You will try and do everything to get your way."

A number of other delegates, including local councillors, took a similarly dim view of proceedings.

Cllr Mick Cahill said the evening's events had been a "very sad night" for Fianna Fail.

His party colleague, Cllr Martin Mulleady, said the refusal to allow local members to vote was akin to the party's decision to opt against running a Longford candidate in last year's Longford-Westmeath by-election.

"This should be put to a vote in order to let people decide who they want to elect.

The party's longest serving local representative, Cllr Luie McEntire, said the stance being taken by party headquarters was inexcusable. "It's a pure scandal," he said."

"Fianna Fail talk about wanting to make a comeback, but if this is the way they want to do it, they will be a long time at it. It's a pure disgrace."

Irish Independent

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