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A Cork pensioner who organized a Mass boycott last year over the Catholic church’s treatment of women has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming election as she is not an Irish citizen.
Jennifer Sleeman, a lifelong environmentalist, was unveiled last week as a Green Party candidate in Cork South West constituency.
However the 81-year-old was born in the UK and despite living in Ireland for over five decades did not acquire citizenship; as a result she cannot qualify as a candidate.
Speaking about being forced to withdraw, the grandmother said she was somewhat relieved but feels that she let the party down.
"I have lived here for 54 years and have been perfectly happy. I haven’t ever applied for citizenship. It just never crossed my mind."
The issue emerged in the when the Green Party attempted to process her candidacy papers. Despite citizenship not being required for those running in local or European elections, candidates running for Dail elections are required to be citizens of Ireland.
Dan Boyle, the chairman of the party said: "She just never took out Irish citizenship. We made an assumption but, sometimes, you just don’t get the breaks."
When asked if they party could fast track an application for citizenship for Sleeman, he ruled it out, saying it would be “an abuse of the process”.
Sleeman is a founding member of the Green Party and resides in Clonakilty.
Speaking from her home, she told the Irish Examiner, she felt the party have been tainted by its time in government.
"They did their best, given the circumstances. But I think they have been slightly tainted," she said. "I hope people realise they did their best, and their policies are excellent. We waited a long time to get into government. It would be sad if we don’t get some seats after this election."
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