Saturday 18 November 2017

Gender row erupts as FF hopeful insists 'I am not a token woman'

FF candidate Aoife Byrne
FF candidate Aoife Byrne

Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil's newest General Election candidate has strongly rejected suggestions that she was selected to run as a result of her gender.

Aoife Byrne, who was added to the ticket in Wexford on Friday, said she believes she represents the best chance for the party to take a Dáil seat in the southern part of the constituency.

The decision by Fianna Fáil headquarters to add Ms Byrne, the daughter of former TD Hugh Byrne, sparked uproar among local members.

And it has prompted a threat from one of the party's councillors in the constituency to run as an Independent.

Councillor Michael Sheehan, who lost out at the selection convention, has said the move has caused serious upset and that he is now considering his options.

"This is about fairness. This is about respect. This is about doing what's right for the area," Mr Sheehan told South East Radio.

"Every time they [headquarters] intervene we lose seats," Cllr Sheehan added.

It has been claimed that the decision to add Ms Byrne to the ticket was taken to meet the gender quotas. But last night, Ms Byrne rejected that this was the case. She said it is her understanding that the 30pc target had already been met by the party prior to her addition.

"I have a lot of supporters and they, as well as the National Constituencies Committee, clearly believe I have the best opportunity to secure a seat for Fianna Fáil in the south of the county," Ms Byrne said.

"I completely reject the label of 'token woman'. The gender quotas were introduced for a very good reason - to get more women into politics. Wexford hasn't had a female TD for years and it is about time that changed," she added.

Ms Byrne will run alongside councillors Malcolm Byrne and James Browne, the son of outgoing TD John Browne.

Irish Independent

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