Fine Gael’s Seanad by-election candidate John McNulty was set to immediately resign if he pulls off a shock today.
His resignation would trigger a second by-election which would almost certainly result in a Government victory, restoring their position in the upper house.
A significant number of Fine Gael Oireachtas members had voted for the party’s nominee for a Seanad vacancy despite his plea not to be a supported.
Earlier, chairman of the Oireachtas health committee Jerry Buttimer said: “If he does win he should resign, yes.”
Donegal deputy Dinny McGinley said he voted for Mr McNulty and knew that many other TDs and senators had done so as well. The backing came even though businessman Mr McNulty urged Oireachtas members not to support him.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said yesterday that it would be up to Mr McNulty to decide whether to resign or not should he top the poll. “That’s a matter for him, he has expressed a very clear expression that people should not vote for him. I have respected that,” said Mr Bruton.
Other Fine Gael TDs insisted that Mr McNulty would have no option but to quit in such circumstances.
Mr McGinley said “significant” numbers of Fine Gael TDs and senators had voted for Mr McNulty despite the controversy surrounding his nomination, telling Highland Radio that the situation had been “mishandled disastrously”.
Bookies moved to make Independent candidate Gerard Craughwell, who was seconded by Fianna Fáil, the favourite to win the seat vacated by Deirdre Clune.
Sinn Féin’s Catherine Seeley is also in the race which has drawn attention due to controversy surrounding Mr McNulty.
The Fine Gael candidate asked people not to vote for him after a political storm erupted when it emerged that Arts Minister Heather Humphreys had appointed him to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) six days before Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominated him for the vacancy on the Seanad’s cultural panel.
Mr Kenny said that the episode had not been his “finest hour” after he accepted responsibility for the controversy.
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