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This guy is Fine Gael's surprise pick for the vacant Seanad seat

John McNulty will take Deirdre Clune’s vacant seat in the upper house.

John McNulty
John McNulty
Image: Fine Gael via Flickr

FINE GAEL IS to nominate a Donegal-based businessman as its candidate for the Seanad by-election in a surprise move.

John McNulty, 37, was a losing candidate for the party in May’s local elections but will now replace Deirdre Clune in the upper house following her election to the European Parliament in May.

The process of McNulty becoming a senator involves a by-election of Oirechtas members but this is a formality as the coalition has the required number of votes.

McNulty failed to get elected to Donegal County Council in May having won just over 800 votes, less than half of the quota required for the six seat Donegal electoral area.

The move is likely to prompt further criticism of Taoiseach Enda Kenny over Fine Gael’s lack of female representation. Kenny came under fire in July for failing to appoint any female junior ministers in the reshuffle.

It had been widely thought that the party would seek to nominate a Dublin-based female to take Clune’s seat with city councillor Kate O’Connell, as well as losing local election candidates Samantha Long and Stephanie Regan, all mentioned as contenders.

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Former Dublin lord mayor Gerry Breen and Ballymun-based councillor Noel Rock had also been mentioned as possible candidates given they are both based in a constituency where Fine Gael has no TD.

The appointment of McNulty will be seen as an effort to address Fine Gael weaknesses in the Donegal area with Donegal South-West deputy Dinny McGinley due to retire from politics at the next election. He was dropped as Gaeltacht Minister in July.

Nominations for the by-election close at noon today with ballot papers to be issued to all Oireachtas members on 26 September and the poll closing at 11am on Friday, 10 October.

Read: This man wants to stop the ‘silly charade’ and run for the Seanad

Read: Here’s how the junior minister reshuffle showed up Enda Kenny’s women problem

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Hugh O'Connell

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