Friday 17 November 2017

Red faces as Bruton not selected over gender quota

Embarrassment: Bruton
Embarrassment: Bruton

Niall O'Connor and Emma Jane Hade

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has suffered a shock defeat in his own selection convention in Dublin Bay North after Fine Gael Headquarters issued a directive that a female candidate must be put forward.

There was high drama at last night's convention in Clontarf Castle as it emerged party bosses insisted that the Fine Gael ticket must consist of both a male and female candidate.

The decision, taken as a result of the Government's gender quotas, angered some of those members present.

Mr Bruton was opposed in the contest by prominent Dublin City councillor and former Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri, as well as local activist Stephanie Regan.

According to those present, Mr O Muiri told delegates that he would need to win the convention outright to be on the ticket, otherwise he would not be added. Mr O Muiri secured the most votes, meaning Mr Bruton was automatically defeated due to the diktat surrounding gender quotas.

The party immediately issued a statement that said Mr Bruton will be added to the ticket.

Nonetheless, the result illustrates that the gender quota rules are causing significant problems for political parties.

A party source said the result was viewed by some as representing a "revolt" against headquarters over imposing the gender quota rules.

Speaking after the meeting last night, Fine Gael councillor Keith Redmond said some delegates voted for Mr O Muiri with the expectation Mr Bruton would be added by headquarters.

"There was a directive from headquarters saying that one man and one woman had to be chosen," Mr Redmond said.

"As a result of that, there was a lot of tactical voting in the room because people wanted Naoise O Muiri on the ticket. So as a result, they realised that, as Naoise said in his own speech, the only way to make sure he was on the ticket was to win the convention.

"So as a result, people knew what they were doing and they voted for him, unfortunately to beat Richard, knowing full well that Richard would be added.

"You have people that are very angry that Richard has been somewhat embarrassed, a long standing and probably the most successful Jobs Minister in the history of the State. But at the same time, this was the only way around the gender quotas to get the candidate they actually wanted in the room."

Ms Regan said her information is that she finished in second place on votes ahead of Mr Bruton.

She said she rejects her place on the ticket has anything to do with gender quotas. Ms Regan said she spent the entire week "on the phones" while Mr Bruton was on ministerial business in India.

"To be fair to Richard, he's been away and is working blooming hard," she said.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Alex White was selected as the Labour Party's candidate in the new Dublin Rathdown constituency.

Irish Independent

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