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Sunday 4 December 2016

Shock as Richard Bruton fails to make selection for 2016 General Election

Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton

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 tonight's convention in Clontarf Castle as it emerged party bosses insisted that the Fine Gael ticket consists of 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, a veteran politician, 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 which 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 Mr Bruton will be added to the ticket by the executive council,which was agreed at the convention. The source said the result was viewed by some as representing a "revolt" against headquarters over imposing the gender quota rules.

Mr O Muiri confirmed he was selected. "Yes I can confirm I got through convention," he told independent.ie.

Speaking tonight, 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 director from headquarters saying that one man and one woman had to be chosen," he said.

"As a result of that, there was a lot of tactical voting in the room because people wanted Naoise Murray on the ticket, so as a result, they realised that Naoise said in his own speech, the only way to make sure he was on the tickets was that he would have 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."

However speaking to independent.ie, 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.

"I care about this country staying on its two feet and I am incredibly honoured to be selected," she added.

Mr Bruton, who attended the event, has been a TD for the Dublin North–Central constituency since 1982.

The 62-year-old was appointed as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in March 2011.

Fine Gael later confirmed Cllr Ó Muirí and Ms Regan were selected to represent the party in the constituency of Dublin Bay North in the next General Election.

"An unanimous motion was passed on the night by members to add Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, and he is expected to be added by the Fine Gael Executive Council tomorrow," it said in a statement.

Cllr Ó Múirí was first elected to Dublin City Council in 2004 and successfully re-elected to the Council in 2009 and again in 2014.

The former Lord Mayor of Dublin is a native of Galway, Councillor Ó Múirí has lived in Dublin Bay North with his wife and young family for over 10 years.

Elsewhere Ms Regan’s professional career began in Aer Lingus, where she was a senior staff counsellor and trainer.

She later completed her clinical training in psychotherapy and has run her own psychotherapy practice in Raheny, for the past 20 years.

Ms Regan has been working as a Fine Gael Local Area Representative since last year.

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

Minister White said he was "delighted" to be selected to represent his party in the next General Election.

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