Former FG women’s group chair accuses party of gender ‘hypocrisy’

Senior party official wrote to Taoiseach over concerns about treatment of women in FG

The former chairperson of a women's group in Fine Gael – which has been put "on hold" – accused the party of hypocrisy on gender equality when she resigned two years ago, correspondence shows.

Frances Cahill, a Galway businesswoman, wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran in August 2012 to inform them she was resigning from the party's women's group and national executive over the treatment of women in Fine Gael.

RTÉ’s This Week programme quoted the emails to Mr Kenny and Mr Curran as saying: “I feel that there is a huge level of hypocrisy within the organisation, especially with gender equality.

“Here we are trying to promote more females into the party and our own women’s group is treated like second class citizens, which I think is a disgrace.


“I became chair in 2008, and maybe came into this with rose tinted glasses, thinking I could help make a change for female members of the party and bring fresh ideas and young people. Well how stupid was I.”

She also expressed concern the women’s group “were to be seen and not heard”.

Fine Gael itself said that, following the 2011 general election, a consultant group was brought in to work on gender equality.

"At that time a Women's Group was in existence in the party and all members of this group were invited to attend meetings with the new consultant group, Equality Strategies. Over the course of their meetings, they discussed the best strategy for increasing the participation of women at all levels in the party," the spokesperson said.

“Members of the Women’s Group decided that a new approach was needed. They felt that having a separate Women’s Group did not serve their purpose in terms of achieving gender equality within the party.”