Fianna Fáil member takes legal action over gender quotas

Brian Mohan was excluded from selection convention due to rules on female candidates

Political parties will lose half their funding unless 30% of their general election candidates are female. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Political parties will lose half their funding unless 30% of their general election candidates are female. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

A Fianna Fáil activist has initiated legal action challenging the State’s new electoral laws on gender quotas after being excluded from a selection convention that allowed only a female candidate to be chosen.

Brian Mohan, an area representative in Dublin Central, was unable to contest the party’s selection convention in October after its national constituency commission (NCC) issued an instruction that only one female candidate could be chosen.

He was one of several male contenders who found themselves unable to put themselves before their constituency selection conventions because of diktats issued by the NCC, chaired by TD Michael Moynihan.

Other declared candidates who were unable to contest conventions were Daithí de Róiste in Dublin South Central and Pat O’Rourke and Séamus Butler in Longford-Westmeath.

In both these cases, the NCC instruction resulted in the only female candidate being selected without a contest.

The decisions prompted heated scenes at the conventions.

It is understood that Mr Mohan’s legal action is not against Fianna Fáil but against the gender-quota legislation introduced by former minister for the environment Phil Hogan.

Mr Mohan was not contactable for comment last night.

Loss of funding

The Electoral (Political Funding) Act, passed in 2012, provides that political parties will lose half of their central exchequer funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates in the general election are female.

All of the parties have said they will meet the gender quota.

Fine Gael is understood to have approached Independent TD Peter Mathews’s parliamentary assistant, Avril Cronin, to contest the general election in Wicklow as it attempts to meet the quota.

She is among a number of potential candidates the party has sounded out as it strives to hit the 30 per cent target.

Fine Gael, with conventions completed in all 40 constituencies, is at the 28 per cent mark and insists the quota will be reached.

The party has selected 82 candidates, 23 of whom are women.

Connell to run in Laois

This week the party added Thomasina Connell, a solicitor for Ballybrittas, to run alongside Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan in Laois.

Former mayor of Tralee Grace O’Donnell was added to the contest in Kerry with Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan and Brendan Griffin.

Wicklow TD Andrew Doyle indicated that his preference would be for him and Minister of State Simon Harris to run without a third candidate.

Separately, Fianna Fáil has yet to decide on dates for selection conventions in two constituencies, Roscommon-East Galway and Cavan-Monaghan.

The party in Roscommon is seen by its members locally as in turmoil. Amid continued infighting, which has included a High Court action by one councillor against another, many of the leading contenders have withdrawn from the race.

Those who have said they will not contest the convention include councillors Rachel Doherty and Orla Leyden and 2014 byelection candidate Ivan Connaughton.

While Fianna Fáil performed well in the local elections in Roscommon last year, the party has been in disarray since Mr Connaughton was beaten in the byelection by the Independent Michael Fitzmaurice.

No date has been set for the convention, and three declared candidates remain: Cllr Eugene Murphy, Larry Brennan and Seán Óg Higgins.