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John McNulty Fine Gael via Flickr

John McNulty goes back to running his shop as Enda says he didn't vote for him

The reluctant candidate could yet win the Seanad by-election on Friday.

ENDA KENNY HAS said that he did not vote for John McNulty in the Seanad by-election after the Fine Gael candidate asked not be considered last week.

McNulty, whose nomination for the by-election has been mired in controversy for the past fortnight, is said by a source close to him to have gone back to running the Mace shop that he manages in Stranorlar in Donegal in recent days as he awaits the outcome of the vote which will be known this Friday.

It’s thought that a substantial number of TDs and Senators (who form the electorate) have voted for McNulty despite him asking not be considered after it emerged he was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) six days before he got the Fine Gael nomination.

The controversy has forced Kenny to apologise for how the situation had been handled and the government to announce changes to the way state board appointments are made.

Speaking to reporters in Leitrim today, Kenny said that McNulty had made his position clear and he respected the candidate’s wish not be considered.

“I filled my ballot paper over the weekend. I’m very clear on this – John McNulty issued a call himself as a candidate to say I do not wish Oireachtas members to vote for me and I respect John McNulty’s call and I have honoured that call,” he said.

Kenny said that he expected government colleagues to respect McNulty’s wishes but it’s already emerged that ministers Alan Kelly (Labour) and Paudie Coffey (Fine Gael) have voted for McNulty.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would not be voting for McNulty while Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe has also urged government members not to vote for McNulty and said he will vote for the independent Gerard Craughwell, a former TUI president.

Craughwell and Sinn Féin’s Catherine Seeley are the other two candidates in the race.

Also speaking today, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he “took very seriously” McNulty’s decision to withdraw from the race, but declined to say who he voted for.

“I did vote myself. I voted on Friday. I still believe in the privacy of what happens in the ballot box – but I did listen to what Mr NcNulty had to say then,” Donohoe said.

It remains unclear whether McNulty would take the Seanad seat if elected this Friday or resign it immediately and force another by-election.

A source close to him told this afternoon that McNulty “hasn’t considered whether or not he will take the seat”.

The source said that if he wins the by-election, McNulty would intend to discuss the matter with the Donegal branch that nominated him before making any decision.

They also said there had been no communication from Fine Gael’s head office since his decision to withdraw from the race. “John’s back running his shop at the moment,” they added.

- additional reporting from Daragh Brophy

Minister: It would be a ‘cop out’ to reveal Fine Gael official

Read: Heather Humphreys had another bad afternoon answering questions on ‘McNulty-gate’

Read: It turns out ‘an awful lot of people’ have already voted for John McNulty

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