Kenny to address TDs about row over Seanad seat

TDs tell party meeting selection of John McNulty was FG being ‘Fianna Fáil lite’

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny missed last night’s meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party  as he is in New York.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny missed last night’s meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party as he is in New York.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to provide an explanation to his own TDs and Senators about the controversial selection of Fine Gael’s Seanad byelection candidate.

Some deputies described the circumstances in which a Donegal Fine Gael member, John McNulty, was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art days before he was chosen to stand for the party in a Seanad byelection as like “Fianna Fáil lite” at a parliamentary party meeting last night.

Mr Kenny, who was absent from the meeting on a trip to the US dismissed accusations of “stroke politics” saying it was his choice as the leader of the party to pick a candidate.

“It is the right of the leader of the day to decide who should be nominated,” he told reporters in Rhode Island.

“I have to verify all of the nominations of all the candidates for general elections and for the Seanad so from that point of view the process is one that Fine Gael have always followed down through the years.”

There was nothing unusual in his decision to pick a fourth name instead of choosing from a shortlist of three potential candidates, the Taoiseach added.

He also rejected suggestions of showing a gender imbalance by nominating Mr McNulty in October’s Senate by-election, pointing to Fine Gael’s nomination of Senator Cait Keane and councillor Maura Hopkins to stand in Dáil byelections.

Some 15 TDs and senators spoke out about the appointment at last night’s meeting. Waterford TD John Deasy said the actions reminded him of “everything I despise in Fianna Fáil”, while Cavan-Monaghan’s Seán Conlan said he didn’t join Fine Gael to watch it turn into “Fianna Fáil lite”.

Mr Conlan said Mr Kenny was responsible for the selection process and is the only person who can address the concerns of TDs and Senators.

Labour disquiet

Heather Humphreys

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