Fourth senior Fine Gael Minister confirms ‘No’ vote on McNulty

Flanagan is latest Cabinet member not backing Government Seanad candidate

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says he has voted in the Seanad byelection but not for Fine Gael candidate John McNulty.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says he has voted in the Seanad byelection but not for Fine Gael candidate John McNulty.

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has confirmed he has voted in the Seanad byelection, but not for Fine Gael candidate John McNulty - who has effectively withdrawn from the race.

Mr Flanagan told The Irish Times he had been “heavily influenced” by Mr McNulty’s appeal to TDs and Senators not to back him.

The other candidates are Independent Gerard Craughwell and Sinn Féin’s Catherine Seeley. The vote takes place by secret postal ballot and the result will be known by Friday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton have also confirmed they have voted, but not for Mr McNulty.

However, a number of senior Oireachtas members voted for Mr McNulty before he appealed to them not to do so. These included Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, of Labour.

Fine Gael TD John Deasy has appealed to party colleagues, who hold the majority in the Oireachtas, to vote for Mr McNulty despite his appeal, raising the prospect that the Donegal businessman could still be elected.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly of Labour has claimed he has “no option” but to back Mr McNulty because he would not support either Mr Craughwell or Ms Seeley.

Fine Gael Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring has also said he would vote for Mr McNulty despite the candidate’s request, but there is now less certainty among Fine Gael TDs and Senators that Mr McNulty will win.

Controversy erupted when it emerged Mr McNulty had been nominated to the board of Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) on September 12th, but Fine Gael denied this was done to beef up his qualifications to contest the Seanad’s Education and Cultural Panel.

He was to replace 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 is described as an Imma board member.

He has since stepped down from Imma and has attempted to pull out of the Seanad race - but his name remains on the ballot paper which cannot be changed.

The byelection is taking place to fill the vacancy caused by the election of Ms Clune of Fine Gael to the European Parliament.