Waterford Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler has said she will be leaving her constituency office at Waterford City’s Waterside, which she rents from the cousin of a convicted paedophile.
Ms Butler also conceded that she made “a huge error of judgment” in allowing former junior minister Brendan Kenneally, who is the cousin of paedophile Bill Kenneally, to canvass on her behalf during the general election.
Former basketball coach Bill Kenneally is serving 14 years in jail for abusing young boys in the 1980s.
Brendan Kenneally, while not in any way involved in the abuse, has admitted being made aware of his cousin’s crimes in 2002, but did not report them, he says, because the victim who had informed him “did not want it to go any further”.
Mary Butler has previously been criticised for Brendan Kenneally’s participation in her 2016 general election campaign shortly before his cousin’s sentencing.
The controversy has been reignited after Brendan Kenneally canvassed the home of Barry Murphy, one of his cousin’s victims, last month.
Mr Murphy who was not in residence, says he was “gobsmacked” when his wife informed him and says “it appears from a Fianna Fáil perspective that it’s business as usual and we don’t matter”.
The issue has been further reignited after a laughing emoji appeared under comments made on Ms Butler’s Facebook page beneath a comment made by another of Bill Kenneally’s victims.
The TD says that the page was faked, and gardaí are investigating.
She claims screenshots taken of the faked image are part of a co-ordinated social media campaign to undermine her politically.
Ms Butler apologised “unreservedly” and repeatedly on air to the abuse victims, saying “it was a complete error of judgment on my behalf for this election”.
The politician stated her position in an interview with Damien Tiernan on Déise Today, his daily programme on WLR.
She added that, in renting the office, she “hadn’t foreseen the enormity of the hurt and anxiety” caused to the victims, whom she offered to meet privately.
The TD denied she was acknowledging the hurt now only because she had “been caught out” and revealed she would vacate the office “within 14 days”.
Victims of Bill Kenneally met Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan, in November 2016, but say, “there has been no help for us since”.