The Taoiseach has ramped up his efforts to prevent the election of his party’s candidate to the Seanad amid fears such a result would prolong the pressure on the coalition over its handling of the issue.
As the controversy enters a second week, Enda Kenny publicly stated for the first time he will not be voting for Fine Gael candidate, John McNulty, in the secret ballot that closes this Friday.
He said he “respects” the Donegal businessman’s request not to elect him following criticism of his appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art before his Seanad nomination.
“I filled my ballot paper over the weekend. I’m very clear on this. John McNulty issued a call himself as a candidate to say I do not wish Oireachtas members to vote for me. And I respect John McNulty’s call. I honour that call.
“I would expect that the members who have not yet voted will respect the call made by John McNulty himself. It’s very clear. He said I don’t wish Oireachtas members to vote for me and I expected that they will respect his call on that.”
His comments were echoed by a number of ministers, including Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who said he expects Mr Kenny to emerge from the controversy a stronger leader than before. “I think he had led responsibly and effectively. Very few politicians in the past have been willing to accept that mistakes have been made and to fix them.
“That is what the Taoiseach had done. He recognises that the reason we have been elected to Government is to fix a lot of the challenges — most importantly the economic challenge.”
Mr Bruton said he had respected Mr McNulty’s wishes people would not vote for him. “It is business as usual as far as I am concerned.”
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has also said he will not vote for Mr McNulty: “In my view, the election to the parliament of a candidate who has withdrawn would not be a good thing for the political process.”
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney also said last night he had not voted for Mr McNulty.
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