Eoghan Dalton Reports
The former chairman of the Waterford Fine Gael branch has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal review into allegations of bullying. Maurice Cummins was alleged to have bullied and intimidated another member of the party had an elections post-mortem in June. Fiona Dowd, a Dunmore East-based businesswoman and unsuccessful Local Elections candidate, had submitted a formal complaint relating to an incident at the June meeting in Dungarvan.
However the review conducted by the party’s General Secretary Tom Curran has made no findings against the former branch chairman. “He notified me that the allegations were thrown out,” Mr Cummins told the Munster Express. “I was told that what took place at the meeting could not be construed as bullying and intimidation in any way.”The episode has been part of the wider controversy around Waterford TD John Deasy, who suffered an unanimous vote of no confidence at the Dungarvan meeting. He announced his intention to retire from politics after the next election a fortnight ago.
As reported by this newspaper last month, the result had been delayed by several weeks due it falling within the summer period. Mr Cummins, who headed up Seanad Éireann in his time as a Senator and was also a long-serving City Councillor, said the wait for a result caused stress and anxiety for him.
He had stepped down as chairman of the party’s Waterford constituency branch during the Local Election campaign. “I have been vindicated and I want to now get on with putting it behind it me and working on getting the party organisation back on track,” he added.
However, Fiona Dowd was surprised at the news of the result – she had received no indication until she was contacted by media last Friday. She said she had not seen the review: “[I] have had correspondence from Tom Curran in response to an email I sent requesting an update on the review and expressing my disappointment to hear from local media of the email sent to Maurice Cummins,” Ms Dowd said yesterday afternoon (Monday).
She added that was told that Mr Curran and Minister of Finance Paschal Donoghue are coming to Waterford this Thursday and “intend to ‘deal’ with the issues reported from the meeting on June 24th and throughout the [election] campaign”.
Mr Cummins, meanwhile, said he viewed the controversy as being over “as far as I’m concerned because I’ve been cleared”. He said this Thursday’s visit would involve addressing issues in the local organisation and plans for the next General Election, as Minister Donoghue is also Fine Gael’s national director of elections.
“”We need to start getting an organisation back locally. The party is at a low ebb,” Mr Cummins said. The Fine Gael press office did not respond when contacted.