There was an air of inevitability about John McNulty’s decision yesterday afternoon to withdraw his name from the list of candidates for the vacant Seanad seat.
What should have been a straightforward, easily managed exercise in political housekeeping turned into a toxic farce that cast nearly everyone involved, with the exception of Mr McNulty, in a pretty shabby light.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s turn-and-about-turn on Mr McNulty’s appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art to facilitate his election to the cultural and education panel of the Seanad, damaged Mr Kenny considerably, a reality he has acknowledged.
The farce was also a textbook example of the corrosive croneyism holier-than-thou Fine Gael promised to stamp out. Not only did Mr Kenny squander considerable personal political capital but he put Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, a relative novice, in an invidious position.
Not only that but his behaviour led to the kind of criticism from within his parliamentary party that could become the spark for a leadership challenge. The pantomime has weakened the Government’s re-election prospects and supported the view held by too many people that our public life is almost beyond reform. It will inevitably deepen the dangerous disconnect between politics and the lives of ordinary people. Another fine mess indeed.
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