Fine Gael councillor resigns from the party, blasting the "old boys club" for its "grinding harassment"
"Their response is driven more by the goal of protecting seats than it is by any principled stand against bad behaviour."
Fine Gael councillor Fiona McLoughlin-Healy has announced that she is resigning from the party after claiming that fellow party-members subjected her to "grinding harassment and isolation."
In a detailed statement posted to Facebook, the Kildare representative said she has consistently received no support from fellow councillors, who also attempted to silence her for drawing attention to certain "irregularities and/or improper practice" in the local council.
"Attempts to discredit me when I proved difficult to silence happened from the bottom up in the party all the way from the local FG branches... to the FG group in the Council, and right up to the National Executive."
Going so far as to say senior party members, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Secretary General Tom Curran and Minister for Equality Charlie Flanagan were aware of this harassment, she added that each had continuously failed to address complaints that councillors were "attempting to collude with others to block my motions being heard."
"[F]or a time I believed that the best way to make any progress was to speak out internally about the poor behaviour I had experienced and to give the party every opportunity to address the old boys club culture in FG, as I had experienced it," she continued.
"FG is excellent at paying lip-service to New Politics, to the importance of accountability, transparency and fairness in public service. It is excellent at paying lip-service to the value of attracting and retaining more women in politics. But saying something isn’t the same as believing it.
"FG has an inconsistent and often secretive approach to complaints of bullying and harassment within the party. Their response is driven more by the goal of protecting seats than it is by any principled stand against bad behaviour."
Drawing wider attention to the atmosphere of fear created in Irish politics, as a result of male-dominated parties, McLoughlin-Healy said this was an example of why female politicians are afraid to call out misconduct.
"They are even reticent to support other female politicians who speak out for fear of recriminations from their typically male-dominated party, their male colleagues, or from their party members... Too many female politicians pull the ladder up after themselves. How many of those who huddled around an upset Senator Catherine Noone in the Dáil bar have spoken out to support her or called for her bully’s time to be up. Or to say... I believe her.
"The theme of this year’s International Women's Day is #PressForProgress. [Let's] press for progress in this centenary year by asking women in politics to speak out, and support female colleagues who speak out about bullying and intimidating behaviour, just as we have done for women in other sectors."