I have done nothing wrong, says ‘distraught’ Pat Carey
Former minister steps down from Fianna Fáil role amid 'innuendo' about sex abuse claims
Pat Carey has stepped down as Fianna Fáil's Director of Elections and quit the party following reports that a former minister is facing child abuse allegations.
Mr Carey issued a statement through his solicitors last night in which he said he did not know whether he is the minister at the centre of the claims, but he was aware of "rumour and innuendo".
"He absolutely and unconditionally denies any impropriety in this matter or in his 30 years' experience as a teacher, as a community worker, and in his public life," the statement said, adding that he was 'distraught' to first learn of the claims in the media.
A number of people have given statements to gardaí claiming that they were abused in the early 1990s.
The news has sent shockwaves through Fianna Fáil, which just last month appointed Mr Carey as Director of Elections.
The Kerry native was a TD for Dublin North West from 1997 to 2011 and served as government chief whip from 2008 before becoming Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in 2010. In the dying days of Brian Cowen's government he also served as Minister for Transport, as well as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
More recently the 68-year-old played a key role in the marriage referendum and came out publicly as a gay man.
The statement released by Eames Solicitors in Dublin described Mr Carey as a "respected person and entitled to his good name". "However, in order to allow the good work of the organisations that he is involved in to continue without controversy or distraction, he will step aside from all such roles to allow any investigation to take place.
"This includes his role as chairman and member of many community and church-related organisations," it said.
The solicitors added that Mr Carey felt, "given the unfounded speculation", he needed to issue a statement "of his volition and with a heavy heart".
Fianna Fáil last night accepted his decision to step aside.
A spokesman said: "An announcement on his replacement as Director of Elections will be made in due course."