Who said poltics was going to be reformed? Oh, wait, Fine Gael did. In their election manifesto for 2011 they aimed for a ‘New politics’ to eliminate cronyism and the like. Fine words, but then along came a Seanad by-election, and as Eamon Delaney notes, (“Art museum appointment shows political cronyism has not change”) a ‘stroke’ was pulled…
There are so many depressing aspects to the McNulty ‘double appointment’. It shows the casual, almost derisive treatment of arts institutions and especially visual arts institutions, by the political culture. When I was on the IMMA board, we tried to fight a pointless forced merger of IMMA with the National Gallery but we got little support from the philistines down in the Dail or Senate.
In this regard, Fine Gael is actually the worst offender. Fianna Fail has at least shown strong support for the arts over the years, especially (but not only) under Charlie Haughey who founded the artist’s body, Aosdana, and introduced tax exemption for artists. By contrast, Fine Gael, perhaps of its austere historic and social background, has usually shown little interest in cultural matters. And this is typified now by Enda Kenny’s bone-headed appointment of a local politician and Seanad candidate to the board of our modern art museum!
Bu the wider picture here is of a political system that is still about perks, cronyism and a scrambling for personal and political ambition. And if this means that they have to ride roughshod over our esteemed cultural institutions then so be it. Nothing has changed.
On top of that, this appears to be literally as well as figuratively a job for the boys, as yet again any effort at gender balance is jettisoned for a favoured appointee (“Debacle over McNulty Imma appointment exposes sorry tale of failure to reform politics”):
So, an internal Fine Gael party process came up with a shortlist of three women to contest the Seanad vacancy. All are well positioned to be candidates for the party in the next Dáil election when, incidentally, legislation requires that a third of a party’s candidates must be female in order for the party to secure State funding thereafter.
Somehow things then started getting messy for Fine Gael. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as party leader, had the final say on this, as he does on all matters. On his own motion or having being persuaded by some apparatchik, Kenny ignored the all-female shortlist and instead decided to bestow the Seanad seat on John McNulty.
Jobs for the boys, stroke politics, it could be the 00’s all over again. All we need is a Galway tent.