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‘Too early to say’ whether by-election for Nulty seat will happen in May

The Independent TD resigned yesterday after it emerged he had sent inappropriate messages to a teenage girl.

Image: File photo - Photocall Ireland

Updated at 8.29pm

ENVIRONMENT AND LOCAL Government Minister Phil Hogan says it’s too early to say if the by-election in Patrick Nulty’s Dublin West constituency will take place on the same day as the European and local elections this May, or in the autumn.

The Independent TD resigned unexpectedly yesterday over a drunken message he sent to a 17-year-old girl over Facebook.

He confirmed he was stepping down with immediate effect shortly before 8pm, hours before the revelations were due to be published in The Sunday World.

The paper ran a two-page spread on the scandal today, detailing how late-night messages were sent to the teen and to her mother over Facebook.

Some of the messages had geo-location data which showed they were sent from the Leinster House area, according to the paper.

In his resignation statement, Nulty admitted sending inappropriate messages and apologised to the teenage girl and her family. He is believed to be seeking professional help.

When contacted by TheJournal.ie, Nulty said he wouldn’t be making any further comment on the situation.

Speaking to RTE News today, Minister Hogan said he couldn’t say when the by-election would be scheduled. It must be held within six months of the seat becoming vacant.

‘Terrible let down’

One of Nulty’s contituents vox-popped by RTÉ this morning said the scandal was “a terrible let down for the people of Dublin West”.

Another said he was “very shocked” while a third resident said it was “very unfit behaviour for a legislator”.

Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness is expected to be the front-runner in the battle for the vacant seat, having finished second in the 2011 ballot.

Calls to McGuinness and to Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger, who finished third in that vote after a prolonged count, weren’t immediately returned this afternoon.

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Sinn Féin representative for the area Paul Donnelly said he welcomed Nulty’s “speedy resignation”.

Nulty was elected as a Labour TD in 2011, topping the poll with 17,636 votes in election, which followed the death of Brian Lenihan.

He lost the whip less than two months later when he voted against the government on the Budget, and officially resigned from Labour in June of last year having been a frequent critic of the party and the policies it had been pursuing in government.

The constituency’s current TDs include government ministers Leo Varadkar, Joan Burton and the Socialist Party’s Joe Higgins.

Additional reporting, Daragh Brophy & Hugh O’Connell. First posted at 4.30pm.

Read: Independent TD Patrick Nulty resigns over drunken message to 17-year-old

Read: Nulty to vote against Budget – 40 days after becoming a Labour TD

Read: Labour’s Patrick Nulty takes Dublin West after count drama

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