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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Will these men lose out in Fianna Fáil's desperate hunt for women?

Two constituencies could prove particularly problematic for the party.

devlin de roiste Cormac Devlin and Daithí de Róiste Source: Cormac Devlin/Fianna Fáil

WITH FIANNA FAÍL struggling to ensure that a third of its general election candidates are female, the party may block some male hopefuls from contesting forthcoming selection conventions.

The issue has become particularly acute in Dublin where two male councillors, Cormac Devlin and Daithí de Róiste, could be prevented from contesting conventions in Dún Laoghaire and Dublin South Central respectively.

This is despite both councillors being considered in some quarters to have the support of the majority of members in each constituency.

Of the four main political parties, Fianna Fáil is the furthest behind when it comes to ensuring that 30 per cent of all its election candidates are female in order to avoid its state funding being halved.

Just under 23 per cent of the 44 candidates the party has picked so far are women.

Sources in both constituencies believe that women-only directives are likely to be issued by Fianna Fáil’s national constituencies committee (NCC) ahead of the conventions, which are likely to take place before the end of next month.

Officially the NCC has yet to make a decision in respect of either constituency and Fianna Fáil declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

In Dún Laoghaire, Devlin is the only male candidate likely to put his name forward at convention with councillors Mary Hanafin, Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe also seeking the nomination.

dl ff cuffe feeney hanafin Jennifer Cuffe, Kate Feeney, and Mary Hanafin Source: Jennifer Cuffe/RollingNews.ie

The convention has been delayed several times having previously been expected to take place before the summer. It is now thought that it will be held in the second half of September.

Internal polling indicates Fianna Fáil can only take a Dáil seat if it runs one candidate in Dún Laoghaire (a four-seater that will effectively be a three-seater if Ceann Comhairle Seán Barret does not retire) presenting a particular difficulty if Devlin were to take the nomination in an open convention.

Local sources believe party headquarters may issue a direction to the 200 or so active members in the constituency to select a female candidate, preventing Devlin from running.

But TheJournal.ie has learned that if this were to happen the Dún Laoghaire-based councillor would consider possible legal action against the party.

“If they try and say that only a woman can be selected, or indeed if they said only a man could be selected, that may not be legally possible, that could be challenged,” a source said.

ardagh Catherine Ardagh Source: Twitter

Meanwhile, in Dublin South-Central, Ballyfermot-based De Róiste is considered the favourite among the 100 or so members in the constituency.

However, party headquarters is believed to favour the selection of Crumlin-based Catherine Ardagh, the daughter of former TD Seán Ardagh.

Amid suggestions that Fianna Fáil may forgo a convention altogether, a constituency source said they expected one will take place but that only one candidate – Ardagh – would be allowed to put their name forward.

De Róiste is not expected to mount any legal challenge if such a decision were made.

Earlier this year, the Markievicz Commission, which was set up to examine ways to increase Fianna Fáil’s number of female candidates, said that some constituency branches should be issued with directions to select a woman at conventions.

Speaking at the launch of the commission’s report, party leader Micheál Martin said that the gender quotas law would mean some difficult decisions would have to be taken.

“It will mean hard decisions, tough decisions, very difficult decisions, but that is the nature of political leadership: it’s the nature of politics,” he said at the time.

Read: This councillor has just made the ‘War of Dún Laoghaire’ even more interesting

Read: Did Fine Gael shaft women in Louth last night?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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