Sinn Fein plans for ‘all female’ election candidates are sexist and discriminatory, says male party member snubbed for election run

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Séighin Ó Ceallaigh, Sinn Féin. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

SINN Fein party servant, Séighin Ó Ceallaigh, who has been snubbed by the party as a potential Dail candidate, because he is male, said today that Sinn Fein’s plans to run only female candidates in the next general election in County Limerick, is by definition, sexist and discriminatory against men.

However, despite being overlooked by the party in favour of females only, Mr Ó Ceallaigh said he remains a loyal Sinn Fein member, and hopes he will be “allowed” run for the party in his home constituency in the future.

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The father of four, who was previously elected a Sinn Fein councillor to Limerick City and County council, said: “I’m a Sinn Feiner, not a me feiner”, despite admitting he got “a massive shock” hearing he couldn’t run for the party because he was male.

“It definitely came as a massive shock, not just for myself, the grassroots members of the party were also taken aback by it,” added the Bruff native.

Sinn Fein party officials delivered the bombshell news about selecting female only candidates in the constituency in the next general election, during an online meeting of around 20 delegates last Thursday.

Despite being announced late in the day as the Sinn Fein candidate in the constituency in last year’s general election, Ó Ceallaigh was pipped for the last seat by Independent, Richard O’ Donoghue, having secured 895 more first preference votes than O’Donoghue, who went on to benefit more from vote transfers.

Mr Ó Ceallaigh said he deserved another opportunity to challenge for a seat in the constituency for his party: “I had ran the last time and no one else was interested in running at that time, and I was obviously interested in running again in the next general election.

“Myself and my supporters, both men and women in Co Limerick, put in a great campaign the last time on two weeks notice and achieved a great result, but now unfortunately it will only be female constituency for the next general election, at the very least.”

He added: “To say men will be excluded, I don’t think is the right thing to do, definitely. I don’t think the issue (for me) was the gender of the candidate, I think the exclusion (of men) is what has surprised most members.”

When asked if Sinn fein’s plans were sexist, Mr Ó Ceallaigh replied: “I suppose, by the definition of it, making that decision based on gender, it would be, whether that’s positive or negative is perspective; yes a lot of people felt that way; there were some members that called it straight out as discrimination.”

When asked if he too felt the party’s plans were discriminatory against men, he replied: “By definition yes…If you were saying that no women were allowed run in Limerick County, you would say thats’s discrimination as well.”

“(My) focus isn’t on discrimination as such, I think the fact that we had a good campaign before, and post-Covid I was hoping to get back campaigning and I hoped to win a seat this time, and just to be told that men wont be illegible to stand is what has (shocked) most members.”

Mr Ó Ceallaigh also ruled himself out of running as a further Independent election candidate or a candidate for any other party bar Sinn Fein.

“No, I’m still aligned with Sinn Fein policies and I’m still a Republican that believes in a united Ireland. It’s disappointing I wont be able to run again, but maybe at some stage in the future, men will be allowed to run again (for Sinn Fein) in County Limerick.”

“There’s no pint in me running as an independent just because I didn’t get my own way within the party; I’m a sinn feiner, not a me feiner, and just because I’m not happy with them doesn’t mean my policies have changed.”

He said he has yet to decide if he will canvass for whatever female candidate Sinn Fein intend to run in County Limerick in the next general election: “I suppose I will look at the circumstances, I don’t know, I suppose I will see closer to the election. I one hundred per cent will be canvassing for Sinn Fein, but whether I’ll be canvassing in my own parish is something I don’t know, that’s something I haven’t really thought about yet.”

He said he is hoping to secure a publisher for his debut novel about politics, which he has just finished writing: “It’s political fiction, not too fictional either, I’ll just say it’s Brexit-related so it’s apt, it’s relevant. At the moment I can imagine it’s very tough for everyone in the arts sector, performance arts, musicians, painters, writers, they have all been seriously impacted by Covid.”

A Sinn Féin spokesperson replied: “Sinn Féin are committed to ensuring that women are fairly represented in public life. As the party with the largest number of women TDs, we have a track record of ensuring that women candidates are given the opportunity to seek office.“
“In a number of instances, this may require that only women candidates can be selected by party members in certain constituencies.”