FF Senator calls on Minister to say who asked her to make McNulty appointment

Darragh O’Brien: Seanad being hit by ‘bad, nasty dirty politics on the part of Fine Gael’

Senator David Norris: referred to the “squalid matter of the byelection”. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O'Brien again called on the Minister for the Arts to explain to the House who had asked her to appoint John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Mr O’Brien, who was speaking before Mr McNulty’s resignation from the board, said he was making the call on behalf of those who were interested in the democratic process and the integrity of the House and the Seanad byelection.

“No one should be fearful of the Minister coming to the House to answer these questions,’’ he added. He said it was “bad, nasty, dirty politics on the part of Fine Gael”.

David Norris (Ind) referred to the "squalid matter of the byelection", adding that nothing could focus the minds and attention of the Irish people on the necessity to reform the Seanad more that what had been exposed.

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“There are 225 votes and the Government side will be whipped for a candidate who is not eligible,” he added.

Colm Burke (FG) said anybody who ran his or her own business was competent to be appointed to any State board. "We seem to have forgotten that the Taoiseach appointed more Independent Senators who were not involved in any political party to this House than any previous taoiseach."

Qualified anyway

Mr Burke said Mr McNulty would have qualified for the cultural and educational panel with or without his appointment to the board.

“This is a technical issue,” he said. “I recently heard of someone who wished to run on the agricultural panel but did not qualify, so the person bought a greyhound and qualified to run.”

Mr Norris said Mr Burke was exposing more of the corruption. “We should do away with this corruption and create a proper, democratic Seanad,” he added.

Mr Burke said he agreed there was a need to reform how Senators were elected because the current panel structure comprised technical procedures and nothing more.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times