'It leaves a bitter taste' - FF councillor dumped over gender quota rules
A prominent Fianna Fail councillor has been blocked in his bid to contest the General Election because of his party's struggle to meet the controversial gender quota targets.
In the first case of its kind since the introduction of the quotas, Dublin City councillor Daithi de Roiste has been formally told that his name cannot be considered by members at the upcoming selection convention.
The move leaves Catherine Ardagh, the daughter of a former TD, as the sole Fianna Fail candidate in the Dublin South Central constituency.
In a letter to delegates in the Dublin South Central ward, seen by this newspaper, Fianna Fail general secretary Sean Dorgan confirmed that the candidate being put forward should be female.
"Having considered the matter very carefully and consulted with the CDC Officer Board, the National Constituencies Committee has recommended that one candidate be selected at the convention and that the candidate selected be a woman," Mr Dorgan wrote.
Party sources unhappy about the decision likened it last night to a case of "gendermandering".
The decision to block a male candidate from contesting a selection convention is illustrative of Fianna Fail's struggle to meet targets.
Under the rules introduced by the Coalition, 30pc of candidates put forward by political parties must be female.
If this target is missed, parties face cuts in their State funding. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has insisted it will reach the target set.
Speaking to the Herald last night, Mr de Roiste said the decision by the party sets an "unwelcome precedent".
"It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, to be honest. Entering politics has always been about representing the people of Dublin South Central to the best of my ability," Mr de Roiste said.
"I believe in democracy and allowing people to vote for the candidate they want, not just because of their gender. So obviously I'm disappointed."
Mr de Roiste was elected for the first time to Dublin City Council last year and was quickly appointed as chairperson of the city's Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
He finished ahead of Ms Ardagh, whose father Sean is a former TD, by several hundred votes.
Ms Ardagh told the Herald that the decision was made by the party, adding that she "feels for Daithi".
"I have a very good working relationship with Daithi and we have worked hard together on Dublin City Council," she said.
"I now hope to get selected at the convention and work hard for the people of Dublin South Central."
Meanwhile, the party is expected to issue a similar diktat to the Dublin Central ward tomorrow. This will likely pave the way for former Dublin City councillor Mary Fitzpatrick to contest the election.
Local activist Brian Mohan pulled out last night after it emerged that a female only ticket will be pursued.
"I'm bitterly disappointed to have to step down. The National Convention Committee has basically issued a diktat to members without any regard for members' own thoughts. It's undemocratic," he told the Herald.
"But I will now work hard to support whichever of the two candidates is selected."