Fianna Fáil has backed down on mooted plans to order party members to pick a female general election candidate in a tightly contested constituency after a legal threat from a male councillor who claimed he was being blocked from running.
The party will today tell members in Dún Laoghaire they can choose any candidate out of councillors Kate Feeney, Mary Hanafin, and Cormac Devlin at its selection convention on Monday night, following a row which saw the party given a deadline of yesterday to cancel the suggested woman-only plan.
The mooted policy, which a party spokesperson stressed last night was never formally stated and simply rumoured, was based on Fianna Fáil likely only winning one of three available seats and the new 30% female candidate gender quotas system.
It had been widely suggested the party was in favour of choosing either Ms Hanafin or Ms Feeney to run. Despite polls conducted by Mr Devlin’s officials claiming he would win an open convention vote, it is believed the two female candidates may have a better chance in the general election itself.
Mr Devlin and party officials spoke at length about the issue yesterday, with the councillor understood to have given the party until the evening to confirm gender would not play a role in the selection convention.
All three would-be candidates were subsequently informed of what the party said was a decision earlier in the week by its national constituency committee to keep the selection convention entirely open, with Fianna Fáil’s general secretary, Sean Dorgan, due to inform party members today.
The decision not to mirror previous female-candidate-only directives in Dublin Central and Dublin South Central means the party is running the risk of missing out on another opportunity to get closer to the 30% gender quota requirement.
However, it is expected that should Mr Devlin win the selection convention vote, Ms Hanafin or Ms Feeney will be added to the ticket by party headquarters.
This is despite a spokesperson confirming last night that a one-person selection convention strategy remains the official position.
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