I wish to address a number of issues in relation to the appointment of John McNulty to the Board of Directors of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).
I appointed Mr McNulty and Ms Sheila M O'Regan to the board of IMMA on Friday the 12th September 2014. In making the appointments, I was conscious of the balance of talent, experience and skills amongst IMMA board members, the skills need of an institution such as IMMA, as well as gender and regional balance. These are not paid positions.
Fine Gael party officials made me aware of John McNulty's interest in serving on a board under my remit. I looked at his credentials and on the basis of his business experience and involvement in local cultural projects, I, as Minister, made a decision to appoint him to the board of IMMA. Mr McNulty was appointed to the IMMA board based on merit.
Fine Gael's candidate for the Seanad bye-election had not been chosen when I appointed Mr McNulty to the board of IMMA, although I was aware that he was among a large number of people interested in running for the Seanad bye-election for Fine Gael. I have no role to play in the selection of Fine Gael's candidate for the Seanad bye-election. This is a completely separate process and it is a matter for Fine Gael.
I welcome the comments made by the Taoiseach in relation to transparency and board appointments. While it has been open to Ministers to go outside the public appointments process up to this point, the new system will preclude this from happening, and this is something I welcome.
As a new Minister, I regret the controversy that has surrounded my first two board appointments. I have learned valuable lessons from this experience.