Saturday 22 October 2016

McNulty may run for FG in election despite Kenny cronyism row


Enda Kenny with John McNulty
Enda Kenny with John McNulty

FINE Gael's John McNulty has been shortlisted as a potential general election candidate as the party struggles to fill the ticket in the highly-competitive Donegal constituency.

Fine Gael sources fear the party is facing wipeout in Donegal after privately commissioned polling shows Sinn Fein on course to take three out of the five available seats.

With veteran TD Dinny McGinley expected to retire, the party is actively seeking a running mate for Gaelteacht Minister Joe McHugh.

The polling shows Fine Gael on 14pc, meaning the party is lagging behind independents (32pc) and Fianna Fáil (17pc) in the constituency.

Fine Gael achieved over 20pc in the last General Election but on these polling figures the party may struggle to even hold onto one seat.

The Herald can reveal that Fine Gael is seeking to woo other potential running mates amid concerns that a decision to put forward John McNulty could reopen "old wounds".

Mr McNulty shot to prominence last year after he became embroiled in a highly damaging cronyism row surrounding the party's Seanad by-election candidate.

The Donegal businessman, who has ties with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Arts (IMMA) in order to boost his credentials as a Seanad by-election candidate.


He resigned just days later, sparking a major row that damaged the reputation of Mr Kenny and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

Sources say they fear Mr McNulty's potential candidacy would reignite the controversy.

"The last thing the party needs is this can of worms being reopened," said a party source.

Among the options being considered by the party is seeking an alternative running mate for Joe McHugh.

Fine Gael figures in Donegal have made informal approaches to independent councillor Niamh Kennedy to run as the party's candidate, however she last night said she rejected any such approach.

Some within the party are also putting pressure on Dinny McGinley to run again, however, the former minister is nearing 70 and is considering retirement.

Mr McGinley told the Herald last night that there is "plenty of time" to decide on Fine Gael's election strategy as the selection convention won't be held until the Autumn.

"John McNulty is certainly one possibility," he added.

He said he has to decide his own intentions, adding: "There are big decisions to be made."

A source close to Mr McNulty said no decision has been made yet.

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