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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020

Taoiseach says he intends to deal with claims of bullying in Waterford Fine Gael

The claims come amid the fallout from a no-confidence motion in the party’s TD John Deasy.

Government envoy to the US Congress JOhn Deasy.
Government envoy to the US Congress JOhn Deasy.
Image: Leah Farrell/

TAOISEACH AND FINE Gael leader Leo Varadkar has acknowledged that there is a “long-standing split” in the party in Waterford and said that allegations of bullying must be investigated.

The Taoiseach’s comments come after Fine Gael members in Waterford unanimously passed a no-confidence motion in the party’s TD John Deasy on Monday night.

It subsequently emerged that the motion was tabled by the brother of Deasy’s party colleague and constituency rival Senator Paudie Coffey.

Following Monday’s vote, local election candidate for the party Fiona Dowd said she felt intimidated during the meeting and plans to table a formal complaint against some members.

“I was completely intimidated, and I’m not easily intimidated,” Dowd said, adding that she had been shouted down when attempting to speak.

Dowd, who failed to win a seat in the recent local elections, she said believed she was seen as being a supporter of Deasy and therefore got the brunt of the intimidation.

She added that members present were asked for a show of hands in the motion and that when a handful of them didn’t raise their hands and then were asked if they would vote in a counter-motion.

Dowd says she didn’t want to as she felt unable to speak up but that she feels she shouldn’t have been put in that position.

She added that she will be putting in a formal complaint against some members and asking Varadkar to investigate her claims because “it’s gone on for years”.

Speaking to the Irish Times after the no-confidence vote, Deasy called for the entire Waterford organisation to be stood down and made reference to “the behaviour of individuals”. 

Reacting to the controversy this morning, Varadkar pointed to what he said was a strong local election performance by the party in Waterford while acknowledging that there are issues with party harmony there.

“There has been a long-standing split in the organisation there and that’s now come to a head and as part of that I intend to deal with it over the recess,” Varadkar said.

I know John Deasy quite well, I appointed him as representative in the United States, he’s done a very good job. He hasn’t to date come to me with evidence of bullying in Waterford but if he is now making that allegation then that has to be taken seriously and that has to be investigated.

“But as I said there is a long-standing split in the organisation there, it’s come to a head and we need to bring it to a close. And I intend to do that as party leader over the next couple of months.”

- With reporting by Christina Finn

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Rónán Duffy

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