A member of the Irish government has resigned after allegations emerged that he had sent messages of a sexual nature to a number of constituents, including one to a teenage girl. Patrick Nulty, the TD for Dublin West, announced his resignation today after details of the messages were printed in Sunday newspapers. Initially, the politician had claimed that his account had been hacked, but he stepped down when evidence emerged that some of the messages had been sent from within Dail Eireann, Ireland’s parliamentary building.
Nulty stands accused of making sexual advances toward a number of women. In one message sent via the social network, he allegedly invited a 17-year old girl to play a game of truth or dare, and went on to ask if she had ever been spanked. He describes the conversation as “inadvertent” and influenced by alcohol. He is now seeking counseling for alcohol addiction.
In other messages, he the girl’s mother in a joking way if her husband had ever beaten her. Another woman, speaking to the Irish newspaper Sunday World, described how she had arranged a meeting to discuss an urgent financial matter that threatened her family with eviction. The disgraced politician asked her to “wear a skirt” to their meeting. His behavior has been described as “predatory” and an “abuse of power” by the Irish media.
This Facebook sext scandal and the subsequent resignation is unlikely to affect the overall makeup of the current Irish government. Nulty had previously been a member of Labour, the minority partner in the current coalition government. Elected in 2011, he then went on to vote against the government’s budget and subsequently resigned from the party. A by-election is expected to be held soon to fill the vacant seat.
Despite the controversy, no criminal charges are expected to be made in relation to the messages. A spokesman for An Garda Siochana, Ireland’s police service, confirmed that no official complaint has been received.
This is not the first time Facebook has led to the embarrassment of an Irish politician. In November, Irish Facebook users were stunned to see a notification saying that TD Michael McGrath had used his official account to “Like” a page entitled “MILF Of The Day.” A red-faced McGrath blamed the debacle on hackers and received no further censure.
Meanwhile the rest of the Irish establishment is embroiled in a more serious scandal. An ongoing inquiry is investigating allegations that GSOC, the official police watchdog, was under surveillance by the police themselves. Several prominent members of the Irish political elite are also accused of improperly using their police contacts to have speeding tickets revoked.
For Nulty, one of Ireland’s youngest TDs, the political future appears quite bleak. He has issued a public apology to the women involved and confirmed that he is seeking treatment for his personal issues, while his father has called for forgiveness from the public. However, the legacy of this Facebook sext scandal makes it unlikely that he will ever return to the Irish parliament.
by Bernard O’Leary