Fine Gael TDs and Senators less sure John McNulty will win byelection

Enda Kenny asked party members to respect John McNulty’s wish not to be voted for

Breege Coen votes early at the Oakwood Private Nursing Home, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, supervised by presiding officer James Raftery and Garda Liam McBrien  yesterday. Photograph: Mick McCormack

Breege Coen votes early at the Oakwood Private Nursing Home, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, supervised by presiding officer James Raftery and Garda Liam McBrien yesterday. Photograph: Mick McCormack

 
Fine Gael

Mr McNulty asked Fine Gael parliamentarians not to vote for him in the poll in the wake of the controversy caused by his appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Mr Kenny asked TDs and Senators to respect Mr McNulty’s wishes but notwithstanding that it is understood as many of 20 of the party’s 100-strong parliamentary party may have voted for the Donegal businessman.

However, the majority of a representative group of TDs and Senators from the party said they were now of the view the Independent candidate Gerard Craughwell may edge out Mr McNulty, but many say the result will be close.

Some 12 members had already voted for Mr McNulty before he signalled he was effectively withdrawing from the race. Since then, several of the party’s TDs including John Deasy and Michael Ring have publicly stated they would vote for him despite his request.

It is believed the vast majority of Fine Gael Ministers have followed the lead of Mr Kenny and will not vote for Mr McNulty. They will either cast no vote or opt for Mr Craughwell, despite his having the backing of Fianna Fáil and Independents.

“Until earlier this week, I would have said Mr McNulty would win,” said a Fine Gael Senator. “But it seems that the tide has turned and the outcome may favour [Mr Craughwell].”

The count will take place on Friday along with the two Dáil byelections in Roscommon-South Leitrim and Dublin South West. Sinn Féin candidate Cathal King remains the favourite to take the seat vacated by Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes in the Dublin constituency, while Fianna Fáil’s Ivan Connaughton is the favourite to win the byelection in Roscommon. That has been caused by the election of Luke “Ming” Flanagan to the European Parliament.