Sent Monday 20th September
Please find below correspondence sent to the National Executive and disciplinary committee relating to but not exclusive to the disparity between how complaints by Deputy O Connell about male members of FG have been dealt with versus how complaints by myself about male members of FG have been dealt with.
It also highlights the disparity between how complaints by male FG members about myself were dealt with versus how complaints by myself about male FG members were dealt with
I would welcome you expressing an opinion as you did in relation to Kate O Connell and her complaint re a FG member.
I eagerly await your response
Subject: Inconsistency in treatment of complaints by the National Executive and its Disciplinary committee- for distribution to the National Executive committee and the disciplinary committee
It was with much relief that I heard that Barry Walsh had resigned from his position on the National Executive, the governing body of the Fine Gael party. While I applaud Deputy Kate O Connell calling out bad behaviour by a Fine Gael member, she is not as you know, the first FG public representative to do so.
Last year, I was the subject of a complaint by a member of Fine Gael on behalf of the Fine Gael group in Kildare. Barry Walsh was one of those selected to sit in judgement of me for ‘bringing the party into disrepute’. My crime was that I had tried to hold the then Mayor to account for holding a meeting of group leaders at which he sought support from the group leaders to be allowed to block my future motions in the Council. The Mayor was a senior member of my Fine Gael group. While there are different versions of how the meeting happened in the first place and who participated in the discussion, it has since been accepted by the leaders of SF, FF and FG in Kildare County Council that a discussion was held during the meeting about blocking my motions. The meeting happened in November 2015 at a time when I was one of two FG general election candidates for the upcoming General Election in February 2016, just three months later.
Fine Gael received an official complaint from me last November before I had the Whip removed. I was assured by FG HQ that my complaint would be investigated with the same vigor as the investigation of the complaint against me. Six months later, frustrated by the lack of any progress re the investigation of my complaint I contacted the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. I informed him of the history of bad behaviour by Fine Gael members in Kildare ranging from blocking me unilaterally and without consultation from Council committees in which I had an interest to the groups ongoing, long-term failure to support my motions in the Council. I informed him of the school boys jokes about my name being on the cleaning cupboard in the Mayors office and of the sexist jeering about training provided by FG HQ during my first local election campaign. I informed him that a FG Councillor had falsely stated on KFM that I had made no attempt to contact the Mayor before submitting a motion of no confidence in him for calling the secret meeting. I informed the Taoiseach about serious allegations made by a Council employee about a member of the FG group.
Barry Walsh had already heard the evidence of the bad behaviour by members of the Fine Gael group including the evidence provided by the Council employee. Very senior members of the party and the National Executive of FG have heard and are aware of the evidence of the long-term, persistent bad behaviour by certain members of FG in Kildare. On September 28th last, I attended an ‘Integrity At Work’ conference run by Transparency international Ireland. Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan who had launched Deputy Heydon’s any my General Election campaign in 2016, spoke to the audience assembled, urging them to support people who speak out about wrongdoing at work. I met with the Minister after his speech and thanked him for urging organisations to support whistleblowers. I informed him of what was happening in FG in Kildare and of my deep concern about the Executive’s failure to investigate my complaints about FG colleagues in marked contrast to the National Executive’s investigation of the complaint made by my male colleagues about me. I asked the Minister for Justice for help. I have yet to receive any response.
Kate O Connell is not the first FG member to call out bad behaviour. And she won’t be the last. We need to ask why misogynist, bad behaviour is worthy of an immediate response in this case however, when similar bad behaviour over a longer period of time has been ignored, both in relation to Barry Walsh and in relation to FG members in Kildare?
All complaints of bad behaviour should be investigated and dealt with promptly . Having brought it to the attention of the Taoiseach and pressed for progress, at the beginning of August, almost nine months after I lodged my complaint, I was informed by the Secretary General of Fine Gael, Tom Curran that the ‘National Executive have come to a determination on your complaint… that the disciplinary committee do not intend to hold a hearing into the said complaint. However they are of the view that the matters raised point to a number of shortcomings’. The letter went on to say that the ‘Disciplinary Committee intended to recommend to the Executive that a group of Councillors from outside Kildare be charged with the responsibility for devising protocols pertaining to the holding of group meetings. Such a protocol would deal with the calling of group meetings, conduct of such meetings, minuting of decisions and communications among members. The said group of Cllrs would also devise a protocol covering arrangements with other political groupings including the minuting of arrangements entered into. We would appreciate if you would become involved in such a group’
In effect, a group of Cllrs need to be brought in from outside the County to explain to the FG group in the Council, some of whom are in politics for decades, how to conduct a meeting and how to communicate with Cllrs within their group. Yet, the Cllrs whose behaviour had triggered the need for such a unique and unprecedented intervention and review was to attract no consequences whatsoever, not even an appearance before the Disciplinary Committee as had been required of myself. Twice. In response I expressed my extreme disappointment at the obvious bias in the way complaints about others and complaints about myself had been dealt with. I asked for the identity of the Cllrs who are to be tasked with such a significant review and with whom I was being asked to collaborate. Two months later, I am still asking for the names of the Cllrs the National Executive are entrusting with the review.
Now that Barry Walsh has resigned from his position on the National Executive and from the Disciplinary Committee triggered by his inappropriate and misogynistic behaviour together with the evidently different response by the National Executive/Disciplinary Committee to complaints about myself versus the response to complaints about my male colleagues, I propose in light of Barry Walsh’s resignation that there is an urgent need for a review of complaints investigated by disciplinary committees in which Mr Walsh participated, for any evidence of unjust, inconsistent or biased outcomes . The swift response to Deputy O Connells complaint further highlights the damning and inexplicable failure of the National Executive to assign the same sense of urgency to dealing with my complaint about male FG colleagues. I request an explanation as to why the National Executive have been stalling on revealing the identity of the Cllrs that are to be brought in to advise senior FG Cllrs in Kildare as to how to conduct themselves around meetings, the minuting of meetings and arrangements entered into with other party’s and around their communications with fellow Councillors.
I eagerly await your response
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy