Tuesday 22 January 2019

Pressure grows on Kenny in FG cronyism row

Fine Gael TDs and senators have said the highly-damaging Seanad cronyism row has left party relationships at their worst since the failed leadership heave against Enda Kenny in June 2010.

It emerged yesterday that Donegal businessman John McNulty resigned from a state board - only 13 days after his appointment - ahead of his upcoming run in the Seanad by-election.

By serving on the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Mr McNulty gained cultural experience which is a requirement to run in the by-election.

But the handling of the affair has sent shockwaves through government and led to the resignation of a highly-respected party member in Dublin, Samantha Long.

Three female party members - Ms Long, councillor Kate O'Connell and Stephanie Regan - were overlooked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in favour of Mr McNulty.

Ms Long yesterday resigned from Fine Gael, telling the Herald that the debacle has sent out a "shady image" about Fine Gael's view of women in politics.

"I'm disappointed for Fine Gael women that a regressive step has been taken," she said.

Ms Regan, meanwhile, called for more transparency within Fine Gael.

"I think as a party we need to be more mindful that we must work in a manner that gives the public a real confidence in the honesty, integrity and transparency of what we do," she said.

Several Fine Gael TDs and senators, some of whom have previously been strong supporters of the Taoiseach, last night claimed relations within the party have now reached a level not seen since the days of the infamous attempted heave.

Waterford deputy John Deasy said TDs are becoming "disgusted" at how Mr Kenny is running the party.

"The Taoiseach, who likes to give his mobile phone number out to the world, doesn't really engage or entertain criticism," Mr Deasy told RTE radio.

One backbench TD said that maverick deputy Mr Deasy's criticisms were not unexpected since relations between himself and Mr Kenny have not been good for almost a decade.

"But the problem is that much of what John Deasy said has a great ring of the truth about it. There is a great deal of arrogance creeping in here and we are in a controversy which is quite unnecessary - and it's all of the leadership's own making," the backbencher said.


The atmosphere within the party was not helped by many loyal to Mr Kenny seeking to write-off the criticisms by up to 15 TDs and senators.

They claimed that those who complained are merely "disappointed people" who did not get promotion when the Taoiseach re-shuffled the ministers last July.

"That kind of talk trivialises the position we are in as a party. We had a terrible six months right up to the summer holidays and now we're blundering again just as the economy is coming right," a FG senator said.


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