Tuesday 23 January 2018

'I'm human,' says Enda Kenny after gaffe on John McNulty appointment

Enda Kenny pictured with John McNulty
Enda Kenny pictured with John McNulty
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been forced to explain his latest campaign gaffe, insisting that he didn't personally make a controversial appointment to a State board and saying: "I'm human."

Mr Kenny was responding to questions on the 2014 appointment of by-election candidate John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in a bid to boost Mr McNulty's credentials ahead of his bid for a Seanad seat.

On Tuesday night's leaders' debate, Mr Kenny appeared to confirm he was directly responsible for Mr McNulty being installed in the role.

"What I did was make an appointment that did not need to be made," Mr Kenny said on the debate as Miriam O'Callaghan was grilling each leader about 'cronyism'.


Speaking afterwards, Mr Kenny said it was Arts Minister Heather Humphreys who had made the appointment.

It was the latest in a series of campaign gaffes, from the length of time it took him to rule out a post-election deal with Independent Michael Lowry, to his "whingers" remark.

The Irish Independent asked which gaffe he would erase from voters' memories if he could.

"Actually, you deal with all these things. I'm human, the same as everybody else. I make mistakes but I'm man enough to acknowledge and accept responsibility for all these things. I think the hallmark of leadership is how you move on from issues that arise," he said.

Asked if he had misspoken about the McNulty appointment on the RTÉ debate, he replied: "No...The appointment was made by the minister. It's a line appointment but I, as Taoiseach in the Dáil, I said I accept responsibility for that."

He said the rules for State Board appointments have since been changed. "You will not now become a member of the lawnmower committee for a department unless you apply through the public appointments service."

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny denied he's "blown it" by not calling the election last November, saying if he had it would have "ruptured the link with the Labour Party".

He also said there are three problem areas that he would like to fix if he is returned to power.

"One is the housing and homeless situation, two is the health issue and three is specifically mental health and the challenges that so many people face."

Irish Independent

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