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'It was a regressive step to appoint a man' - Samantha Long quits Fine Gael in Seanad row

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Samantha Long

Samantha Long

Samantha Long

Samantha Long has quit the Fine Gael party this morning and claimed the party's recent decision was a 'regressive step'.

Ms Long was one of the three female candidates who was overlooked for the Seanad by-election nomination.

The overlooked Seanad hopeful said the party was ignoring female candidates and it was a ‘regressive step’ to appoint a man to the position. 

This appointment was to possibly elect another woman to parliament and replace a woman’s seat. It’s a regressive step to appoint a man to that position,” she told RTE Radio One.

“I was mulling over the aspects of what had been happening over the last week or so and while I wasn’t personally hopeful to be that nominee and candidate, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a woman suitable, a capable, suitably qualified woman.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has come under fire for rejecting three women shortlisted for a vacant Seanad seat and instead putting forward Mr McNulty, in a move described as a "political stroke".

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny staunchly defended his controversial decision to pick a Fine Gael activist for a Seanad seat, overlooking three women shortlisted for the vacant post.

But up to 15 Fine Gael TDs are demanding an explanation from Mr Kenny on the appointment of party crony John McNulty to a State board days before his Seanad nomination, with some deputies saying it reminded the public of "the way Fianna Fail did business".

And it has emerged Tanaiste Joan Burton wasn't told about the appointment of Mr McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Ms Long said she would not describe the recent events as ‘stroke politics’ but said Fine Gael’s recent decision was ‘unfortunate politics’.

 “I see it as geography over possibly talent and definitely gender,” she said.

“Geographical consideration came into this.”

“It’s very unfortunate politics. I have a lot of friends in politics that are noble people and I joined Fine Gael because I thought it was a very noble party,” she continued.

“I still admire many of those people but I don’t like the way this has panned out.”

Ms Long admitted she was ‘delighted’ to be informed that she was on the short list, but didn’t fully understand what was involved and didn’t think she was qualified enough for the job.

She said she has no doubts over McNulty’s ability but that it was the ‘wrong signals’ to let a man take the seat.

“I feel bad for John McNulty, the candidate, but I’m sure he’s very capable and talented,” she continued.

“It sounds like the wrong signals to let a man take that seat.

“Women and girls like me, we need to send out a clear, visible message that it’s a viable career for women.”

Ms Long said she did not feel there is ‘gags per se’ on women in the party, but that it is much easier to speak out as a resigned member of Fine Gael.

“Part of the reason I resigned is that I feel I can speak more freely as a resigned member,” she said.

“Other elected and unelected women may need to feel that they need to keep their finger in for future jobs.

“I feel saddened and disappointed and relieved.

“I don’t think there’s any gags per se on women, we know feisty women in Fine Gael and many are my friends”

Meanwhile, newly appointed Arts Minister Heather Humphreys has defended her decision to appoint failed local election candidate John McNulty to a State board.

Ms Humphreys said she had looked at his credentials and decided he was a "good person" for the role before appointing him to the board of the Museum of Modern Art on September 12.

She claimed she was "not aware" of Samantha Long's annoucement earlier today that she is to resign from Fine Gael after being snubbed for the party's nomination for the Seanad in favour of McNulty.

Ms Humphreys said: "When I made the appointment of John McNulty, I looked at his credentials and he had indicated an interest to serve on the board,  and I felt that he was a good person.

"Sometimes, Dublin-based institutions and important cultural institutions maybe need a greater representation from the regions," she added, referring to the fact that McNulty hails from Donegal.

Online Editors