Dublin West faces by-election after Nulty resigns over messages

TD apologises after sending ‘inappropriate messages via Facebook’ while under influence of alcohol

A by-election will be held within Dublin West within six months after deputy Patrick Nulty dramatically resigned last night after admitting he sent inappropriate messages to a 17-year-old girl.

Mr Nulty announced his intention to resign in a statement released last night ahead of an article in the Sunday World newspaper today.

In his statement, Mr Nulty admitted to sending “inappropriate messages via Facebook” and claimed he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

He said the messages “included inadvertently sending one to a 17-year-old woman.

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“To the best of my knowledge I have never met this woman and the message was sent while under the influence of alcohol”.

“I apologise wholeheartedly to the woman involved and to her family. It was never my intention to upset anyone in this way but it was totally wrong.”

The Sunday World newspaper claims Mr Nulty (31) asked a girl in a late night Facebook message: “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.

The newspaper said it had confronted the TD with “geo-tagging” evidence claiming the messages were sent from inside Leinster House, which is home to the Dáil.

In his statement, Mr Nulty (31) said the message he sent to the 17-year-old was entirely inappropriate and he took full responsibility for his actions.

“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.

"I still believe passionately that Ireland can be a fairer and more just society based on equality and social justice but at the present time I believe to resign is the correct and right course of action."

He also apologised to his family, friends and constituents in Dublin West. He also appealed for privacy in what he described as a “very difficult decision for me personally”.

His resignation will prompt a by-election later this year in Dublin West, one of a number that may take place after the local and European elections.

The front-runner to win the seat is expected to be Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness who came second in the by-election in October 2011.

Mr Nulty became a TD in October 2011 after winning the Dublin West seat left vacant by the death of Fianna Fáil's Brian Lenihan earlier that summer.

Elected for the Labour Party, he subsequently infuriated Labour weeks later by voting against the Government in that year’s Budget.

He subsequently resigned from the Labour Party.

Additional reporting: PA

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times