Questions left unanswered following McNulty withdrawal

Here are a sample of questions that remain to be answered definitively

Enda Kenny with John McNulty. A number of matters remain unexplained in the aftermath of  John McNulty’s effective withdrawal from the Seanad byelection campaign.

Enda Kenny with John McNulty. A number of matters remain unexplained in the aftermath of John McNulty’s effective withdrawal from the Seanad byelection campaign.

 

A number of matters remain unexplained in the aftermath of Fine Gael candidate John McNulty’s effective withdrawal from the Seanad byelection campaign.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil today that his contribution yesterday, in which he accepted responsibility and apologised, raised more questions than answers.

Below is a sample of the questions that remain to be answered definitively.

What did/does Mr McNulty want?

Mr McNulty’s statement of yesterday makes clear he wants to contest the General Election in Donegal. Dinny McGinley will not run again in Donegal South West. Mr McNulty was an unsuccessful local election candidate who was hoping to fill the Seanad vacancy created by Deirdre Clune’s election to the European Parliament.

Yesterday Mr Kenny said Mr McNulty expressed a wish to serve on a cultural body. Today Mr Kenny said he did not discuss this matter with Mr McNulty. Mr McNulty knew he was being considered as a Seanad nominee but he did not know he would be selected when he was appointed to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma), according to Mr Kenny.

Did Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys know John McNulty was one of a number of potential Fine Gael candidates for the Seanad byelection when she appointed him to the board of Imma?

Yes. Ms Humphreys for the first time yesterday acknowledged she was aware Mr McNulty was one of a large number of potential party Seanad candidates when she appointed him.

Fine Gael party officials made her aware of John McNulty’s interest in serving on a board under her remit, she said. Ms Humphrey insisted she had no role to play in the “separate process” of selecting Fine Gael’s candidate for the Seanad byelection.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil today: “There was no instruction given to the Minister for Arts...she herself appointed him as she was entitled to do as a member of the board.” He said he was not informed of every appointment made to a non-remunerated position, but this “flawed” system would change.

Minister of State for finance Simon Harris said there had been 29 individuals vying for what the party viewed as a Fine Gael vacancy in the Seanad.

Why did Ms Humphreys appoint Mr McNulty?

Having been made aware of Mr McNulty’s interest, Ms Humphreys said she assessed his credentials and on the basis of his business experience and involvement in local cultural projects, she appointed him “on merit”. The difficulty for the Government is that Mr McNulty could not continue to serve on the board. The institution’s internal rules prevented him from being a board member and contesting an election at the same time.

Who are these officials referred to by Mr Kenny and Ms Humphreys? They have not been named.

What’s likely to happen in the Seanad election?

Independent candidate Gerard Craughwell, the former Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president who was seconded by Fianna Fáil appears to be in pole position.

Mr Craughwell withdrew his objection to Mr McNulty’s nomination when he heard he was an Imma board member, but later said: “I would never have accepted a 6 day term as a qualification for his nomination had I known”.

The other candidate is Sinn Féin’s Catherine Seeley, a teacher from Lurgan in Northern Ireland.

Some Fine Gael TDs and Senators have already voted for Mr McNulty in the secret postal ballot. Last night others were entertaining the idea of voting for Mr McNulty, despite his request to them not to do so. They were indulging the notion that the Fine Gael candidate might win and the result would be challenged. The byelection might then be run again with a fresh Fine Gael candidate who - given the numbers in the Oireachtas - could win.

How with the Government manage a reduced minority in the Seanad?

The Government’s majority in the Dáil is secure but it is likely to have a minority of three after next week’s byelection. Before Mr McNulty effectively withdrew, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said yesterday morning he would support “the Government candidate” because of the difficulty getting Coalition-sponsored legislation through the Upper House.

Curiously, Mr Kenny may have created a rod for his own back by taking the unusual step of appointing an independent-minded group of Senators from outside the ranks of the two Government parties. He cannot depend on their votes.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.