Fianna Fáil Arts Spokesperson Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD has called on the Arts Minister Heather Humphreys to make a full statement explaining the circumstances surrounding the controversial appointment of Mr John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
His comments come following the failure of the Minister to give even a basic credible explanation to media at today’s Ploughing Championship.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl commented, “This whole sorry affair is causing unease in many quarters – in the population generally and in an arts sector that feels increasingly taken for granted by this Government. The truth is that this botched appointment looks like a simple case of a cynical stroke gone wrong, where an appointment that was made in order to qualify the Taoiseach’s favoured candidate for the Seanad bye election has been exposed as such and has collapsed under pressure.
“The attempt by Minister Humphreys earlier today to absolve herself of any responsibility was unconvincing and raises a number of straightforward questions that need urgent answers:
- Is the Minister suggesting that she was completely unaware that Mr McNulty was going to be the Fine Gael candidate for the Seanad bye election when she appointed him?
- If so, why did she appoint an individual who had not even applied for the role and who has no obvious interest or experience in modern art or museum management?
- If she was aware of his candidacy, who made her aware of his candidacy in the first instance?
- Was she directly or indirectly asked to help burnish this individual’s CV in order to qualify him for the relevant panel in the Seanad Bye Election?
- If she insists that she was not a conscious participant in the obvious effort to bolster his CV, can she explain why exactly she thought it appropriate to appoint someone to the board of a national institution when it was patently clear that he would not be serving on the board for more than a few short weeks?
“Whether she was a conscious participant or not, Minister Heather Humphreys has been a central player in this debacle and has directly facilitated a deeply cynical stunt. In doing so, she has brought her department and its work into disrepute. In order to begin to mitigate that damage, it is important that we receive frank and honest answers to these questions at the earliest opportunity”.