ARTS Minister Heather Humphreys has insisted that Fine Gael member John McNulty was appointed to a State board “on merit”.
The newly appointed cabinet minister, who was dragged into the cronyism row that led to a political storm, tonight defended Mr McNulty’s appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).
The Donegal businessman served as an IMMA board member for just six days before stepping down. His appointment was orchestrated so that he would have the necessary credentials to run for the Seanad through the cultural and education committee.
Mr McNulty was defeated in the election having earlier asked Fine Gael politicians not to vote for him. Former trade unionist Gerard Craughwell took the seat previously held by now MEP Deirdre Clune.
It is widely believed among coalition TDs and senators that the McNulty fiasco has damaged the credibility of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Ms Humphreys defended the appointments of Mr McNulty, as well Limerick woman Sheila O’Regan to a separate board. Ms O’Regan also has Fine Gael ties.
"I just want to say that I appointed John McNulty and [historian] Sheila O’Regan on merit, and I stand over that decision," the minister said.
"I'm committed to using the new system through stateboards.ie and I have written to all of the chairpersons of the national cultural institutions and I asked them for a skillset required by them for people that would sit on their board,” she added.