Arts Minister Heather Humphreys says she was asked by Fine Gael officials to appoint John McNulty - but she didn't know he was the party's candidate for the Seanad.
Ms Humphreys has finally set out her role in the Seanad by-election debacle after she appointed Mr McNulty to the board of directors of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).
"Senior Fine Gael officials made me aware of John McNulty’s interest in serving on a board under my remit. I looked at his credentials and on the basis of his business experience and involvement in local cultural projects, I, as Minister, made a decision to appoint him to the board of IMMA. Mr McNulty was appointed to the IMMA board based on merit," she says.
Ms Humphreys says she didn't know Mr McNulty was going to be the party's Seanad by-election candidate.
"Fine Gael’s candidate for the Seanad bye-election had not been chosen when I appointed Mr McNulty to the board of IMMA, although I was aware that he was among a large number of people interested in running for the Seanad bye-election for Fine Gael. I have no role to play in the selection of Fine Gael’s candidate for the Seanad bye-election. This is a completely separate process and it is a matter for Fine Gael," she said.
"I welcome the comments made by the Taoiseach in relation to transparency and board appointments. While it has been open to Ministers to go outside the public appointments process up to this point, the new system will preclude this from happening, and this is something I welcome.
"As a new Minister, I regret the controversy that has surrounded my first two board appointments. I have learned valuable lessons from this experience," she said.
Ms Humphreys was due to attend the Gate Theatre at the opening night of 'The Mariner' this evening but failed to show.