Government candidate John McNulty has withdrawn from the race for a Seanad seat, following a controversy over his nomination and appointment to a State board.
McNulty, who was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art just days before his nomination to the Seanad election, said that "to contest the election would be an ongoing distraction from the critical work of Government".
Government TDs had been issuing statements of support for his candidacy this morning. Both Brendan Howlin and Kathleen Lynch said they would be voting for him, with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform saying that "getting legislation through the Seanad is difficult enough" and he would support the Government's candidate.
Mr McNulty, who resigned the post on the board of IMMA after it became clear he could not hold it while contesting the Seanad election, said he would no pursue a seat in the Dáil in the next general election.
Mr McNulty's name is already on the ballot papers which have been issued to voters before the poll closes on October 10. In his statement, he encouraged voting members of the Oireachtas not to give him their preference.
As McNulty's statement was issued, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was speaking about the issue in the Dáil, saying that his selection fell "beneath our standard".
"I accept that my own standards were let slip, that my own sense of integrity and trust given to me here did not measure up in this case - and this seat should not be accepted in these circumstances," the Taoiseach said.
Earlier today, Brendan Howlin announced a reform of the appointments system to State boards, in which all positions will be filled from candidates responding to public advertisements.
Statement from John McNulty
I have informed the Taoiseach that under the circumstances, I am withdrawing my name and asking the Members of the Oireachtas not to vote for me in the upcoming Seanad bye-election. I would like to thank the many members of the Oireachtas who already expressed their support for me.
I am taking this decision because I believe that to contest the election would be an ongoing distraction from the critical work of Government which is to secure Ireland’s recovery through job creation and increased investment. I believe the Government’s economic plan is working and the country is now moving in the right direction. This is what all members of Government should be focussed on at all times.
It was my hope, if elected, to support the Government’s work in this regard as a member of the Oireachtas and now it is my intention to seek a Party nomination to contest the next General Election.