Craughwell beats FG’s McNulty to win Seanad byelection

Independent beats controversial FG appointee, SF’s Catherine Seeley third

Independent candidate Gerard Craughwell beats controversial Fine Gael’s appointee John McNulty to win Seanad byelection. Mary Minihan Reports.

 

Victorious Seanad byelection candidate and former member of the British Army Gerard Craughwell has paid tribute to Sinn Féin TDs and Senators for supporting him with their votes.

Mr Craughwell saw off John McNulty to win the byelection that has been dogged by controversy since it emerged the Fine Gael candidate had been appointed to a State board shortly before he was nominated to the Seanad.

“For 12 members of Sinn Féin to support me, an ex-British soldier, that is a phenomenal step forward for Sinn Féin and I think they’re to be commended for it,”

Mr Craughwell said.

“It’s no secret I was a member of the Royal Irish rangers and Sinn Féin were quite prepared to put that behind them and I’m quite prepared to put behind me and them any issues I may or may not have had with them.”

The ex-TUI president secured 87 votes on the first count to Mr McNulty’s 84. The Sinn Féin candidate Catherine Seeley was eliminated after getting 22 votes.

When her votes were distributed, Mr Craughwell got 11 bringing his total to 98 and Mr McNulty got one, bringing his total to 85. The remaining 10 wre non-transferable.

Mr Craughwell appeared emotional as he spoke to the media after he was declared elected. “The 16-year-old boy who joined the army as a private soldier never thought he’d be standing on this plinth,” he said.

Referring to the controversy involving the Fine Gael candidate, Mr Craughwell said it had been regrettable. He said he hoped the Seanad would be treated with “clear regard” by the Government, given that the Government’s majority in the Upper House was diminished.

He said he would focus on the development of education in Ireland and promised to vote as an independent in the Seanad.

Mr McNulty had asked TDs and Senators not to vote for him following the public furore over his appointment to the board of Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) by Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys on September 12th.

However, some Coalition members, including senior Ministers, said they would be supporting him anyway.

Controversy erupted after Mr McNulty was nominated to the museum’s board. It then emerged he was to replace Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune on the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Seanad, and the Imma appointment was widely seen as allowing him to demonstrate knowledge of the area.

On the ballot paper, Mr McNulty was described as an Imma board member.

He later stepped down from Imma and attempted to pull out of the Seanad race, However, his name remained on the ballot paper which could not be changed.

Mr McNulty had struck a deal with senior party officials that he would resign his seat in the Upper House if elected.