A COUNCILLOR IN Kildare has resigned from Fine Gael due to her frustration over how a “bullying” complaint made in relation to her fellow councillors was handled.
Fiona McLoughlin Healy, who was a Fine Gael candidate for South Kildare in the 2016 general election, made the complaint to the party in relation to group meetings and asked it to investigate matters.
In July last year, Fine Gael’s disciplinary committee decided that it would not hold a hearing into McLoughlin Healy’s complaints.
In a letter to the councillor from Fine Gael’s General Secretary Tom Curran, he wrote:
“However, they [the committee members] are of the view that the matters raised point to a number [of] shortcomings into how group meetings are called, conducted and minuted and how communication among group members is managed.”
The letter goes on to say that the disciplinary committee intends to recommend to the party’s Executive Council that “a group of councillors from outside Kildare be charged with the responsibility for devising protocols pertaining to the holding of group meetings”.
McLoughlin Healy says that these councillors have not been put in place, and she has not been notified of when they would.
She had sent emails to senior members of the party, outlining her concerns around how her original complaint was handled. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s office sent an acknowledgement that an email had been received.
In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Fine Gael said:
“Councillor Fiona McLoughlin Healy has resigned from the party with immediate effect.
In 2016, Fine Gael’s disciplinary committee fully investigated an internal issue in a timely manner and decided to remove the party whip from Councillor McLoughlin Healy for six months. The party’s Executive Council subsequently considered an appeal but rejected it.
Fine Gael thanks Councillor McLoughlin Healy for her work and wishes her well in the future.
It said that it wouldn’t be making another statement on the matter.
McLoughlin Healy had raised a motion of no confidence against a fellow councillor which had led to a disciplinary hearing against her.
The resignation comes after Senator Catherine Noone raised concerns about bullying and sexism from one of her male colleagues last month. Yesterday, Fine Gael’s General Secretary Curran said that the matter had been addressed; and Noone said she was satisfied that her complaint had been dealt with.
At a Fine Gael parliamentary meeting in November, TD Kate O’Connell distributed print-outs of derogatory and abusive tweets sent by a member of the Fine Gael Executive Council, Barry Walsh. He later resigned from his position on that council.
In her email to the Taoiseach announcing her resignation on Wednesday night, McLoughlin Healy said:
“Women, if and when they do overcome massive obstacles to getting selected and elected, are reluctant to speak out about bad behaviour for fear of being viewed as weak.
“They are even reticent to support other female politicians who speak out for fear of recriminations from their typically male-dominated party, their typically male colleagues, or from their party members all of whom they rely on, for votes, for canvassing and for support in either council or Dáil chambers.”
McLoughlin Healy has said that she intends to continue as an Independent councillor.