Nulty betrayed trust of voters with his actions
Analysis: TD was contacted by those in vulnerable positions
Patrick Nulty: “It was down to a personal problem with drink, totally out of character, as anyone who knows me will testify.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
There is a temptation in politics, especially when elections are involved, to move immediately to the next thing without a backward glance.
When a TD dies, the talk at the funeral is about who will stand in the resulting byelection and what their chances are. And so it is being proved in the immediate aftermath of the Sunday World report which revealed the messages sent by the now former TD Patrick Nulty.
Details of the Sunday World report showed Nulty’s actions to be genuinely troub- ling and thus cautioned against immediately weighing up the runners and riders in Dublin West.
We might be cynical when it comes to politics, carping at times that they’re all in it for themselves, but the vast majority of those who stand do so to serve the public and because of a belief in the good of politics, as Nulty himself undoubtedly did.
Being a TD is a privilege – not necessarily for the often- cited “pay and perks” – but for the trust the voters place in someone to be their representative in parliament.
As such, TDs deal with people in the most vulnerable situations, who often have exhausted all other options before turning to public representatives for help.
Nulty said he never “intended to cause any harm in any way”, adding: “It was down to a personal problem with drink, totally out of character as anyone who knows me will testify.” Yet those who contacted him were in vulnerable positions themselves.
He came into contact with one family when they approached him regarding rent allowance. The message sent from Nulty’s Facebook account in reply to the mother said: “Did the hubby leather u for not payinh [sic] that rent?”
After the woman who received that message discussed it with her family, it emerged her 17-year-old daughter had been asked by Nulty if she had “ever been spanked”. It is also alleged he asked others to wear a skirt rather than jeans to a meeting in his office.
He has acknowledged he sent some messages, but does not remember doing so.
Some praised the prompt resignation of his seat as an honourable admission of wrongdoing, not often seen in Irish politics, which is true.
However, Nulty betrayed that trust placed in him by the voters of Dublin West in his moments of weakness.