Seanad candidate John McNulty given IMMA role without applying

The arts minister has defended appointing a former Fine Gael election candidate to a state board - even though he didn't apply for the position.

Minister Heather Humphreys appointed Donegal council candidate John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art - a position he's now using to campaign for a seat in the Seanad.

Last night Today FM revealed how John McNulty, who's running in the Seanad by-election for Fine Gael, had been appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

He was given the unpaid role by his party colleague, Heather Humphreys, just six days before filing the paperwork to run for the seat on the Seanad's Cultural panel - which requires candidates to have experience in the cultural arena.

Last night the Arts minister admitted that Mr McNulty didn't apply for the position - but nonetheless defended his appointment.

In a statement to Today FM Minister Humphreys' department said the board of directors needs to have regional and gender balance, as well as a balance "of talent, experience and skills on that Board" and "the skills needs of the institution".

It stressed, however, that Minister Humphreys was satisfied that McNulty has "appropriate skills and experience" for the position.

It had earlier listed Mr McNulty's experience as including involvement cultural and heritage events in his native Donegal, where he is also involved in the GAA and the Fleadh Ceoil.

A spokeswoman added that Minister Humphreys isn't required to follow an open appointments process - and can appoint outside candidates, even if they aren't among the people applying for state positions.