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'It was out of control': Chaos in Longford as Fianna Fáil members denied a vote

The decision to nominate a female candidate without a vote caused uproar at the Longford Arms Hotel last night.

More trouble for party leader Micheál Martin
More trouble for party leader Micheál Martin
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL MEMBERS in Longford are hopeful they will still be allowed to select the party’s general election candidate following the controversial nomination of Connie Gerety Quinn last night.

Gerety Quinn was nominated without a vote after party headquarters issued a directive to members that a female candidate had to be selected to run alongside incumbent TD Robert Troy in the Longford-Westmeath constituency.

The other candidates, councillor Seamus Butler and party activist Pat O’Rourke, condemned the decision, with the latter insisting there could be still be an opportunity for a vote to be held.

However, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, who chaired the convention last night, said the party has a “balanced ticket” and described Gerety Quinn as “an outstanding candidate”.

There was widespread opposition to the gender directive among the over 300 Fianna Fáil members who attended the chaotic convention at the Longford Arms Hotel.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, O’Rourke said: “It was extraordinary. I’ve never seen anger like it…. it was out of control.

Shouting, stamping, people roaring: ‘We want our say’. It was like a water protest.

He said the local membership would now be appealing to party headquarters to hold a vote and allow them to pick one of the three candidates.

“This isn’t over. HQ have reneged and turned their back on Longford. Longford Fianna Fáil will exercise their democratic right,” he insisted.

I believe in the coming days they will have an opportunity to consider three candidates and they will have a democratic process.

O’Rourke also pointed out that Gerety Quinn had said in August that she would not agree to being selected under any gender quota directive.

Speaking to Shannonside Radio in August, Gerety Quinn said:

I am making it very clear, that I am not going to go on the gender ticket. I would not, I could not. I have more respect for myself and indeed for my colleagues.

Gerety Quinn has not commented since her selection last night and did not address the convention despite repeated calls from members for her to do so.

She was subject to heckling and bellowing, according to O’Rourke, who sympathised with her, saying: “She has been put in an impossible situation.”

Speaking to Today with Seán O’Rourke earlier, Fleming said it had been a difficult convention, but said the conclusion of the party’s national executive was that Fianna Fáíl should have a “balanced ticket”.

“Fianna Fáil needs women TDs, Fianna Fáil needs women candidates,” he insisted.

Read: ‘Gender havoc’ in Cork East as daughter of ex-TD to fly home for election

Read: Fianna Fáil members WON’T be forced to pick a woman in Dún Laoghaire

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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