FG councillor appeals party action after Mahon findings


CLONDALKIN COUNCILLOR Therese Ridge has lodged an appeal against the removal of the party whip and potential expulsion following a hearing by the Fine Gael disciplinary committee last month.

Her action means the decision of the committee is suspended pending the hearing of the appeal.

A member of South Dublin County Council, Ms Ridge was the subject of an adverse finding in the Mahon tribunal report last March over the acceptance of election funding in 1992 from lobbyist Frank Dunlop.

Dublin South TD, Olivia Mitchell, who was also the subject of an adverse finding in the Mahon report over a donation from the same source, was exonerated of any complaint.

The report said the circumstances of the receipt of £1,000 by Ms Ridge from Frank Dunlop was “entirely improper” and that Ms Mitchell’s acceptance of an unsolicited £500 donation was “inappropriate”.

Differentiating between the circumstances of the two cases, The committee found Ms Mitchell had not brought the party into disrepute. However, it ruled that Ms Ridge’s conduct was “wholly inappropriate in a manner seriously damaging to the interests of Fine Gael”.

Accordingly, the party whip was to be removed from her and she was instructed to resign from all committees associated with her role as a public representative or else be expelled from Fine Gael.

Ms Ridge was notified of the ruling on May 9th and given 30 days to appeal. She said last night her solicitor Ben O’Rafferty had sent the appeal yesterday afternoon. “I am happy for my friend Olivia Mitchell,” she said. “I seem to be the only one brought to book, in quite a severe manner, and it saddens me greatly.”

Alluding in a statement to media reports that Ms Mitchell would resign her Dáil seat and precipitate a byelection if disciplinary action was taken against her, Ms Ridge said: “I had no such Sword of Damocles to hold over the committee. Straight away I feared that I would be scapegoated.”