Byelection to replace Nulty likely to be held in autumn

TD quits after sending inappropriate messages to constituents, including 17-year-old girl

Former TD Patrick Nulty outside  Leinster House, with  Tánaiste  Eamon Gilmore and Emmet Stagg TD, following the 2011 Dublin West byelection. Photograph: Eric Luke

Former TD Patrick Nulty outside Leinster House, with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Emmet Stagg TD, following the 2011 Dublin West byelection. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Dublin West byelection to fill the seat of former TD Patrick Nulty is likely to be held in the autumn, rather than on the day of the local elections, according to Government sources.

Mr Nulty, who himself won a byelection following the death of the late Brian Lenihan in 2011, resigned his Dáil seat after sending inappropriate messages to constituents, including a 17-year-old girl.

Elected as a Labour TD in October 2011, Mr Nulty lost the Labour whip that December after voting against the Government on a budgetary issue and has been on the Independent benches since then.

The Sunday World reported that Mr Nulty (31) sent a number of messages to women who contacted him regarding constituency matters, such as rent allowances.


Tagged
Some of these were sent from Facebook in the early hours of the morning, and were “geo-tagged”, showing they were sent from Leinster House.

The reported messages included one in which he asked a girl: “Have you ever been spanked?” It is further alleged that a woman was asked to send underwear in the post and another was urged to wear a skirt when visiting a constituency clinic.

In a statement, Mr Nulty said the message he sent to the 17-year-old was inappropriate. He took responsibility for his actions and said some messages were sent while he was under the influence of alcohol.

He is also reported to have sent messages to the girl’s mother.

“For this reason I have decided to resign my seat in the Dáil. I set myself the highest standards personally and politically. Unfortunately, due to personal mistakes, I have not met those standards in this matter and I will take responsibility for that.”


Six months
Byelections have to be held within six months of a vacancy arising, which means the latest date for a Dublin West poll to be held is late September.

Senior Coalition sources last night said an autumn byelection was the more likely option, rather than May 23rd, the same day as the European and local elections.

This would allow a number of byelections – possibly caused by TDs being elected to the European Parliament – to be held on the same day.

The Irish Times also understands the mother and her 17- year-old daughter at the centre of the case over which Mr Nulty has resigned made an informal approach to gardaí about the messages in recent weeks, before the media became aware of the matter.

Late last week they were again in touch with gardaí in Blanchardstown.

The possibility of the girl’s phone being examined by gardaí has been discussed, but it has not been surrendered and no formal statement of complaint has been made, meaning no criminal investigation is under way.

Garda sources did not believe Mr Nulty had committed any crime. They said while his actions would be regarded as inappropriate and an abuse of his position, the girl was 17 years old when she received the messages last December and so above the age of consent.