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Frank Flannery was pretty astounded with the way Fine Gael handled McNulty-gate

The former Fine Gael strategist has had his say on McNulty-gate.

Frank Flannery
Frank Flannery
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FORMER FINE GAEL strategist Frank Flannery has said that he found the John McNulty Seanad by-election controversy “pretty astounding”.

In his first public comments on the issue which recently dominated the political agenda, Flannery told TheJournal.ie that Fine Gael has in general “a tendency to mismanage issues over the past six months” saying he finds this “quite extraordinary”.

“I just don’t understand how a party with such a strong position could end up proposing a candidate for a by-election, having such a large majority and end up losing it,” he said.

The by-election was mired in accusations of ‘cronyism’ after it emerged that Donegal-based businessman McNulty was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) six days before he was confirmed as Fine Gael’s Seanad candidate.

He subsequently resigned from the IMMA board and asked not be considered by the electorate of TDs and Senators. Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to apologise for the debacle, blaming the botched state board appointment on an unnamed Fine Gael official.

McNulty was eventually only narrowly beaten in the by-election by independent candidate Gerard Craughwell who had cross-party support.

when asked about the blaming of a still unnamed Fine Gael official for the mishandling of the matter Flannery said that while he had no inside knowledge of the McNulty affair he was “very nervous about a blame culture in an organisation”.

“I’ve no knowledge at all as to the facts as to who botched it. But I am very nervous about blame culture in an organisation. They should stand together and support one another in public and solve problems internally,” he said.

Flannery resigned as Fine Gael’s director of elections earlier this year amid controversy over his role as a lobbyist for the Rehab Group, an organisation he was formerly CEO and chairman of.

He has been critical of the party since leaving it but he declined to blame Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the McNulty affair, saying he did not know what role the Fine Gael leader had to play.

But Flannery added: “I spent many years working with Fine Gael officials. I can tell you that together with most people that are there they are an extraordinarily effective team of people… the best political machine in the country, and they are one of the strongest resources that Fine Gael has.”

Read: Trouble for Enda? Frank Flannery is doing a weekly political podcast with Bill O’Herlihy

Read: Who is Frank Flannery and why is everyone talking about him?

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Hugh O'Connell

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