Humphreys faces grilling by Dáil committee

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys has been asked to appear before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions on her appointment of Fine Gael’s Seanad by-election candidate to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) board.

The Environment Committee, which has a sub-committee on Arts and the Gaeltacht, chaired by Labour TD Michael McCarthy, has written to Ms Humphreys as further questions emerged over her handling of the controversy.

Yesterday, the Irish Examiner reported a second person appointed to the Imma board along with Mr McNulty — historian Sheila O’Regan from Limerick — is a Fine Gael member. Limerick Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan confirmed to the Irish Examiner he recommended her to Ms Humphreys.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin ramped up the pressure on Ms Humpheys, saying, at the “very basic level, she should say what officials in Fine Gael asked her to appoint Mr McNulty to the board of Imma”.

Ms Humphreys said on Thursday that she was “not at liberty to say” who passed on the recommendation to appoint Mr McNulty because it was a “matter for Fine Gael”.

Mr Martin said: “It’s not an internal Fine Gael matter. The Imma is a national institution. This was done in great haste to cynically enable Mr McNulty to be qualified to run on the Seanad cultural panel in terms of the by-election.”

He told RTÉ radio there has been “a very unedifying spectacle” over the past week, with the minister running from the media and avoiding questions.

“It should be very straight forward, it should be very simple. She should explain who came to her, who put the pressure on her to appoint Mr McNulty.”

As expectations grew within Fine Gael that Mr McNulty may win the Seanad seat, the Taoiseach has moved to limit any damage to his credibility.

Enda Kenny, who told the Dáil on Tuesday it would “not be worthy to win a seat in these circumstances”, said yesterday he would not speculate on the outcome: “I haven’t given any directive to the Fine Gael party. It’s an election obviously that when the process commences it can’t be stopped — it goes through to the end. So that’s the position.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

Related Articles

More in this Section

Recalling Cork's lost Jewish community

Facebook ‘likes’ found to have little influence on wellbeing

Desperate for the truth: Parents seek answers after daughter, 20, died suddenly in hospital A&E

Third-level bosses face grilling


Breaking Stories

Man charged with attempted murder following stabbing in Antrim

Gov Chief Whip says Varadkar is popular due to his impressive attention to detail

Man hospitalised following assault in Carlow

Irish woman seeking to stay in touch with child following spilt with partner

Lifestyle

All you could wish to see at the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Darina Allen: A sample of some of the exquisite food cooked during Litfest

Review: James Vincent McMorrow - True Care is a sublime, abstracted gift that keeps on giving'

Style evolution: Four new festival fashion looks

More From The Irish Examiner