News Fionnan Sheahan

Tuesday 30 September 2014

How Patrick Nulty's bright future with Labour turned to exile and now shame

Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30

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Patrick Nulty,Independent deputy for Dublin West  at Leinster House yesterday.Pic Tom Burke 25/2/15
Patrick Nulty

Patrick Nulty became the first candidate from a government party to win a by-election in almost 30 years. He will now become the first TD in history to both win a by-election and be replaced in a by-election during the course of the same Dail term.

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The 31-year-old was elected as the Labour Party candidate in the November 2011 by-election in Dublin West to replace the late Brian Lenihan, who died in June of that year.

Mr Nulty had been building his profile as a councillor on Fingal County Council from June 2009 and as the running mate of Labour deputy leader Joan Burton in the 2011 General Election.

He then topped the poll in the by-election with 8,665 first preferences – or 24pc of the votes. His win famously ensured Fianna Fail had no TD in Dublin.

But he then had one of the shortest careers ever of a government TD.

Within six weeks of the by-election, he had resigned the Labour party whip in protest at the cuts in Budget 2012.

He decided to vote against the budget because of the cuts to young people with disabilities, child benefit, the health service and the fuel allowance.

Constituency rivals called on him to resign his seat – as he was elected as a coalition TD and its policies were well flagged.

His actions infuriated his party colleagues in Labour, many of whom had helped him in the by-election campaign.

Nonetheless, he had been an outspoken critic of austerity policies during his time in the party.

Mr Nulty rose up through the party ranks through his involvement with Labour Youth, becoming its national chairman, and was associated with the hard left wing of party.

After leaving the parliamentary party, he later resigned from the party completely to become an Independent TD, but he remained close to fellow former Labour rebels Roisin Shortall and Tommy Broughan.

He remained active at a local level following his departure from Labour and had intended to contest the next general election as an Independent candidate.

Mr Nulty overcame the severe burns he suffered as a child to pursue a career in politics.

When he was just two weeks old, he was injured in a house fire at his grandmother's home and received severe burns.

The incident left him with scars on his face and arms and he has a hoarseness in his voice as well from smoke inhalation. He says the injuries marked an important part of his life but did not define him.

From Corduff in west Dublin, he went to school locally and studied social policy at Trinity College. He graduated with a Masters in Social Sciences from UCD, where he also taught undergraduate students and adult education courses.

After college, he worked with the homelessness charity Focus Ireland for five years.

Irish Independent

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