Cronyism row is my responsibility, admits Taoiseach
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has accepted the blame over his role in the cronyism controversy as he continues to come under fire from the Fine Gael backbenches.
Mr Kenny said he took full responsibility for the nomination of John McNulty to the Seanad after he was appointed to a state board.
The Taoiseach said he regretted what had happened, which was of his own making but would never happen again.
"Mr McNulty is an innocent person in this. I wouldn't say it was my finest hour and I take responsibility for this having evolved to what people might imagine it is," he said.
Seeking to take the pressure off Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, Mr Kenny said she was not in any way to blame.
But there were still calls from within Fine Gael for answers from Mr Kenny and Ms Humphreys and for Mr McNulty to withdraw from the contest.
Mr Kenny sought to take the pressure off his Seanad candidate.
"My responsibility as leader of the party is to make a nomination for a person that I deem to be suitable and have the qualifications to do a job in the Senate and Mr McNulty is an outstanding candidate," he added.
But the Taoiseach continued to come under fire from within his own party.
Following on from Fine Gael TD John Deasy's criticism, party backbencher Sean Conlan repeatedly attacked Mr Kenny and Ms Humphreys.
Mr Conlan said Mr Kenny's latest remarks have made matters worse and contradicted his version of events outlined the previous day. He called on his Cavan-Monaghan constituency colleague, Ms Humphreys, to give an explanation.
Mr Conlan also said there was a fear within the party that the Taoiseach was to "days of stroke politics" and "the days of Charlie Haughey".
Mr Kenny said he should have moved "quicker" on party proposals to establish an electoral strategic committee to be headed up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, which will also deal with candidates, conventions and nominations. "I'm the first to say I should have followed through on that more quickly," he said.