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Tánaiste Joan Burton said the practice was that the party from which the Seanad vacancy arose had the right to fill that vacancy John Deasy said people were disgusted at how Fine Gael was being run
Fine Gael TD John Deasy has said the appointment process regarding John McNulty’s nomination to the Seanad had clearly been manipulated and abused.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One programme, he said that people were disgusted at how Fine Gael was being run.
Mr Deasy also said the promotion within the party was based on loyalty to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and not on ability.
He said that he believed Mr McNulty should step down.
Fine Gael has been under pressure over Mr McNulty’s appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, with the opposition saying it was made to help his candidacy for the Seanad.
The Donegal businessman has been nominated by Fine Gael to fill the vacancy left by the election of former Senator Deirdre Clune to the European Parliament in May.
Mr Deasy said the controversy was indicative of what has been going on in Fine Gael for some time.
He said the calculation from the Taoiseach was that “he can pretty much do anything he wants,” because as long as the economy continues to improve the public will not care.
The Waterford TD said: “We all know what happened. It really was a case of pointing that out and asking for some accountability with regard to the process here, which was clearly manipulated and abused, and this appointment to the IMMA board was to construct a credential to allow Mr McNulty to pursue the [Seanad] nomination.”
Mr Deasy said he believed Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, who nominated Mr McNulty, did so at the request of the Taoiseach and that she simply did “what she was told to do”.
He said there was an uncomfortable viewpoint expressed at last night’s parliamentary party meeting.
Mr Deasy said there was a sense of fear within the parliamentary party that if you did not toe the line you would be punished. He said the Taoiseach was at the heart of this.
He said Mr McNulty should step down but he said he did not believe that this would happen.
However, Ms Humphreys has said this afternoon that she appointed Mr McNulty on his own merits.
She said he had indicated an interest in the area and she looked at his credentials and formed the view that he was a good person.
The minister said the two appointments she made to the IMMA board were intended to give a regional spread to a Dublin-based body.
She said she had no role in his selection as a Seanad candidate.
Overlooked candidate resigns from Fine Gael
One of the women overlooked for the nomination has resigned from the Fine Gael party.
Samantha Long said that “geography” and not gender was the main factor in choosing the party’s nominee and she described it as “unfortunate politics”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Long said she was disappointed a woman had not been chosen for the Seanad nomination and she would now step away from politics to rebuilld her career.
She said: “While I wasn’t personally hopeful to be that nominated candidate, I’m very disappointed that it wasn’t a woman, a suitably capable and a suitably qualified woman.
“I see it as geography over, possibly talent and definitely gender, and geographical considerations have come into this as the main consideration for this nominee.”
Earlier, the nomination of Mr McNulty was raised in the Dáil.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the Taoiseach had bought into the policies of the past by appointing Mr McNulty to the board of IMMA.
She said this was a case of job for the boys and there was a stink of cronyism.
Ms McDonald asked Tánaiste Joan Burton if she supported the nomination and would she and her Labour party colleagues be voting for Mr McNulty.
The Tánaiste said that a vacancy arose in the Seanad and the practice was that the party from which the vacancy arose had the right to fill that vacancy.
Ms Burton said Sinn Féin had also availed of what is a “standard practice”. She said all parties have followed this practice.
Elsewhere, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for the Seanad by-election to be suspended because of the controversy.
He also called on Mr Kenny to apologise to the board of IMMA.
Mr Martin claimed the board had been abused for internal Fine Gael party reasons.