Former NUIG president in Seanad election row following 'inappropriate support of election candidate

A former president of NUI Galway has been accused of “inappropriately” supporting Aer Arann boss Pádraig Ó Céidigh in the Seanad elections by a leading member of the college’s governing authority.

Former NUIG president in Seanad election row following 'inappropriate support of election candidate

Iggy Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway from August 2000 until March 2008, has in recent days sent out an email to members of the NUI electorate, strongly endorsing Mr Ó Céidigh’s nomination saying he is a “man of integrity and energy”.

“I recommend him for your consideration without reservation, Iggy Ó Muircheartaigh, President Emeritus, NUI Galway,” he added.

Concern has been raised as Mr Ó Céidigh was appointed an adjunct professor in the Cairnes School of Business at NUI Galway while Mr Ó Muircheartaigh was appointed a director of Aer Arann by Mr Ó Céidigh.

Another Seanad candidate and member of NUI Galway’s governing authority, Cllr Pearse Flannery has objected to his intervention, saying it aims to have undue influence on the election.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Cllr Pearce Flannery said: “Ó Muircheartaigh should immediately clarify his relationship with Padraic Ó Céidigh.

“For a former president of a NUI college to use his official title to attempt to influence the outcome of a national election by endorsing a friend or colleague when there are other NUIG graduates in the election, would appear to me to be absolutely inappropriate.

“Speaking as a member of the NUIG governing authority (Udarás na h’Ollscoile Gaillimhe), for a past president to drag the college into the political arena in a partisan manner would also be also a cause for concern. ”

Mr Flannery has criticised Mr Ó Muircheartaigh’s use of his title as President Emeritus, NUI Galway for “political purposes”.

Aer Arann boss Pádraig Ó Céidigh
Aer Arann boss Pádraig Ó Céidigh

An issue was also raised about the fact that he sent his email out to a list of email addresses which were visible to every recipient, with critics citing potential data protection issues.

When contacted by the Irish Examiner and told of the objections to his recent email, Mr Ó Muircheartaigh replied with “no comment”.

Attempts to contact Mr Ó Céidigh were unsuccessful.

A spokeswoman for NUI Galway said they were unable to comment.

Thirty candidates have been nominated to contest three NUI seats. They include sitting Senators Ronan Mullen and Aideen Hayden, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell, former ICTU boss David Begg and developer and land league campaigner Jerry Beades.

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