Kelleher appointed new director of elections for Fianna Fáil

Martin thanks retiring director Pat Carey for his work to date on election campaign

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has appointed TD Billy Kelleher as the party's director of elections for next year's general election, following the resignation of former minister Pat Carey.

The Cork North Central TD takes up his position immediately. In a brief statement, Mr Martin thanked Mr Carey for his contribution: “I would like to thank Pat and acknowledge his work on the campaign to date.”

Meanwhile, former political colleagues have spoken warmly about Mr Carey, who announced on Thursday he would step down from a number of prominent roles.

Gardaí are examining how information that officers were investigating sexual abuse allegations made against a former politician was made public.

Mr Carey has “absolutely and unconditionally” denied “any impropriety” following sexual abuse allegations against a politician, adding that he did not know if the allegations related to him.

Mary Harney, former Progressive Democrats minister for health, who served in cabinet with Mr Carey from 2008, when he was appointed government chief whip, expressed surprise at the information that had entered the public domain.

Highest integrity

“As a former colleague I have huge respect and regard for him. I always found him to be a man of the highest integrity,” she said. “I’m stunned at what has come into the public domain.”

Ms Harney stressed that allegations of sexual abuse must always be appropriately investigated.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who served in Cabinet with Mr Carey as minister for communications, energy and natural resources, said he was reluctant to add to conjecture.

“The gardaí need to investigate their own processes because there have been a number of incidents where allegations have been aired in the media before the people involved have been informed themselves,” Mr Ryan said.

Gardaí have confirmed, in a statement, that they are “examining all the circumstances surrounding how information relating to an ongoing criminal investigation entered the public domain.”

Former Fianna Fáil minister of state and Northern Ireland adviser to three taoisigh Martin Mansergh said he had been "taken aback" by recent developments.

“He is a very decent and highly respected politician, so obviously I find it all a bit hard to believe,” he said.


Separately, Tánaiste Joan Burton said any allegation relating to sexual abuse had to be investigated thoroughly by the gardaí. “It would be completely improper for me to comment on any such investigation at this point,” she said.

The Irish Red Cross confirmed it had been informed by Mr Carey of his decision to step down “from all public positions due to serious allegations being reported in the media”. He took up the voluntary position of chairman in May.

The organisation said it respected Mr Carey’s decision, adding the authorities must be given time to investigate. “The allegations relate to a period over 30 years ago. The Irish Red Cross’s work at home and abroad is not affected.”

The Irish language organisation Glór na nGael also confirmed Mr Carey had resigned as chairman.

Mr Carey released a statement through his solicitors on Thursday night, which said he had instructed them “in relation to the rumour and innuendo surrounding a newspaper article published [on Wednesday] entitled “Former Minister investigated by gardaí over child abuse claims”.

He said he was “deeply upset” at being contacted by journalists about the matter, “when he has no knowledge of the actual complaints allegedly made”.

The statement added: “He was distraught to first learn of these matters on the front page of a national newspaper. He is also concerned at comments allegedly attributed to the gardaí in media articles in the past 24 hours.”