Upton denies rift over candidates

 

Labour Party TD for Dublin South Central Mary Upton has denied the party’s decision to field three candidates at the next general election influenced her decision to step down.

Ms Upton, who has served the constituency for the past 11 years, yesterday surprised party colleagues by announcing she would not be seeking re-election to Dáil Éireann.

“After 11 years, I have worked hard and I’ve done my best for the people of the Dublin South Central, and I think it’s just time for me to go,” she told RTÉ Radio today.

She dismissed suggestions her decision had anything to do with the party’s preference for a three-candidate strategy at the next election, which would have seen Cllr Michael Conaghan added to the ticket, alongside Ms Upton and Cllr Eric Byrne.

“It’s no secret, I would have preferred two candidates but it would not have impacted at all on me, simply because I think there are two safe Labour seats in Dublin South Central, that are easily achieved, and possibly three.”

Asked why she had not announced her decision sooner when the candidates were being selected, Ms Upton said she had not made up her mind at the time.

“These things just happen. I was concentrating on policy documents since the beginning of the year. I have published three policy documents for the Labour Party since January and I was very committed to doing that.”

Ms Upton, who is the party’s spokeswoman on culture, sport and tourism, won her seat in a 1999 byelection, filling the vacancy created by the death of brother, Pat.

There are several Labour contenders to succeed Ms Upton including her nephew, Cllr Henry Upton, the son of the late Dr Upton.

Asked if the candidate to replace her should be a woman given the poor representation of women in Dáil Éireann, Ms Upton said she had never subscribed to a gender quota policy, saying the gender of the new candidate was not important.

She acknowledged, however, there was a low number of women TDs and a more gender-balanced Dáil would be preferable, but she insisted gender quotas were not the way to achieve this.

“I never saw myself as a woman TD, in the sense of gender being particularly important. I think what’s important is somebody who will do the job.

If you want more women in politics, I think it’s important that life is made a little easier for them. If you’re a woman with a young family, for instance, it is practically very difficult to envisage a life in politics, not just the sitting hours but all the local work that goes with it.”

Two of the five seats in the Dublin constituency are held by Fianna Fáil, with Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin holding one seat each.