From top: Heather Humphreys; John McNulty and Enda Kenny
A timeline of the ongoing John McNulty crony affair
Order in a story gone mad.
(questions at the end)
May 2014: John McNulty, a businessman, Fine Gael member and GAA team manager from Kilcar, Co Donegal, unsuccessfully stands for election to Donegal County Council; Deirdre Clune, member of the Seanad Cultural and Educational Panel, elected MEP.
Summer 2014: Fine Gael seeks names to be put forward as candidates for Clune’s vacated Seanad seat. 31 names put forward, including John McNulty (nominated by his constituency).
Fine Gael National Executive shortlists Stephanie Regan, Samantha Long and Kate O’Connell as candidates for the vacant seat on the Seanad Cultural and Educational Panel.
September 12: McNulty appointed (along with Sheila O’Regan) to Board of Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) by Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys. His appointment brings the number of Board members above the Fine Gael recommended maximum of 9.
September 17: News breaks that McNulty, rather than Regan, Long and O’Connell, will be the Fine Gael candidate for the Seanad vacancy.
September 18: John McNulty confirmed as the Fine Gael candidate for the vacancy on the Seanad Cultural and Educational panel. His proposer, Mr Enda Kenny, Taoiseach, describes McNulty as a “Businessman, Board Member of the Irish Museum of Modern Art”.
Concerns subsequently raised by Independent Seanad candidate Gerard Craughwell as to Mr McNulty’s qualifications to run for the panel vacancy, in particular his lack of arts experience.
September 21: A hearing takes place in Leinster House, before Judge Paul McDermott, regarding Mr McNulty’s eligibility to run.
Mr Craughwell withdraws his objection after the Clerk reads out a description of Mr McNulty as a businessman and Irish Museum of Modern Arts Board member.
September 23, 2014: Irish Independent and Daily Mail raise concerns regarding the appointment of Mr McNulty to IMMA. Addressing the Dail, Heather Humphreys stands over Mr McNulty’s appointment, saying:-
“I have no role to pay in selecting candidates in the Seanad by election. However it is my responsibility to ensure that people appointed to the boards that fall under the remit of my department have the relevant experience and have the capability of making a valuable contribution to the relevant organization. Mr McNulty brings considerable business experience to the IMMA board. He has also been involved in a range of local and Heritage projects.”
Ms Humphreys refused to answer questions about whether or not Mr McNulty publicly applied for the Board position.
On the same day, Enda Kenny reaffirms the right of the Fine Gael party leader to decide who should be Fine Gael candidates for the Seanad, even if not on the party shortlist.
September 25, 2014: Mr McNulty announces he is stepping down from IMMA due to his Seanad candidacy.
“I am stepping down from the IMMA board with immediate effect, in accordance with IMMA’s internal rules, which preclude me from being a board member and contesting an election at the same time. I will continue to be a member of IMMA an dan active supporter of their work. I look forward to continuing my election campaign for a seat in the Seanad.”
Mr McNulty’s tenure on the IMMA Board has been 13 days. He has not attended any Board meetings during his time as member.
On the same day, Enda Kenny denies having influenced Mr McNulty’s appointment to the IMMA Board, stating that:-
“I’ve never given instructions for Ministers to make appointments. We have a system hereby if Ministers are making appointments to the chairs of boards or semi-states or whatever, the Minister makes the nominations to Cabinet, but there are thousands of positions that are required to b filled occasionally.”
Mr Kenny defends his decision to select Mr McNulty as the Seanad candidate, stating that he “is a young man with a great deal of experience, a great deal of energy and a great deal of commitment that he will bring to Seanad Eireann. So they can’t all be winners, they can’t all be appointed and it’s the responsibility of the leader to make that choice and that’s what I did.”
Heather Humphreys once again declines to say how she came to nominate Mr McNulty as an IMMA Board member or if she was aware at the time he was to become his party’s candidate for the Seanad.
Meanwhile, Gerard Craughwell states that, had he known about the circumstances of Mr McNulty’s appointment to IMMA, he would not have withdrawn his objection to his candidacy.
September 26: Ballot papers for Seanad election distributed.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Enda Kenny states that he never gave instructions to Heather Humphreys to appoint Mr McNulty to the Board of IMMA.
Heather Humphreys again affirms that Mr McNulty was the correct choice as an IMMA Board Member.
“I looked at his credentials and he indicated an interest to serve on the board and I felt that he was a good person. I think it is important to remember that any person who serves on the board does so on a voluntary basis and I felt that when I appointed the two people that board they were representative of the regions because sometimes Dublin based institutions maybe need a greater representation from the regions.”
September 30: Heather Humphreys states that she appointed Mr McNulty to the Board of IMMA after being informed by Fine Gael that John McNulty wished to serve on an Arts board. Although she was not aware that he had been chosen the Fine Gael candidate for the Seanad at the time, she was aware that he had sought the position as his name was among the 29 put forward to the Fine Gael National Executive. She was not asked whether or not she considered the consequences, from point of view of his continuing Board membership, of his possibly running for the Seanad.
September 30: John McNulty formally withdraws from the Seanad Race, apparently after being requested to do so by officials sent by Enda Kenny when still canvassing. He states that he had requested a place on an Arts Board from Fine Gael following his defeat in the local elections and agreed to sit on the IMMA Board because he ‘felt he had a lot to offer’. He was not asked whether or not, in deciding to become an IMMA Board member, he had considered the fact that he would have to resign if selected as the Fine Gael Seanad candidate.
October 1: Addressing the Dail, Enda Kenny states that when he nominated Mr McNulty as the Fine Gael Seanad candidate, he was not aware he had been appointed to IMMA. However the description of Mr McNulty given as part of Mr Kenny’s proposal describes him as an IMMA Board member.
All of which prompts three questions (among many, in fairness):
1. If you have to resign from IMMA as a Seanad candidate why did Heather Humphreys appoint a Seanad candidate?
2. Why did John McNulty take the IMMA appointment knowing he was running for the Seanad?
3. Enda told the Dail he didn’t know John McNulty was a member of IMMA but proposed him for Seanad with a nominee form describing him as an IMMA board member. What’s with that?