Martin Cullen

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Martin Cullen
Martin Cullen.jpg
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism
In office
7 May 2008 – 23 March 2010
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Mary Hanafin
Minister for Social and Family Affairs
In office
14 June 2007 – 7 May 2008
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Mary Hanafin
Minister for Transport
In office
29 September 2004 – 14 June 2007
Preceded by Séamus Brennan
Succeeded by Noel Dempsey
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
In office
6 June 2002 – 29 September 2004
Preceded by Noel Dempsey
Succeeded by Dick Roche
Minister of State at the Department of Finance
In office
8 July 1997 – 6 June 2002
Preceded by Hugh Coveney
Succeeded by Tom Parlon
Teachta Dála
In office
November 1992 – March 2010
In office
February 1987 – June 1989
Constituency Waterford
Senator
In office
October 1989 – November 1992
Constituency Nominated by the Taoiseach
Personal details
Born (1954-11-02) 2 November 1954 (age 60)
Waterford, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Other political
affiliations
Progressive Democrats (until 1994)
Alma mater Regional Technical College, Waterford

Martin Cullen (born 2 November 1954) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Waterford constituency.[1] Cullen was a member of Seanad Éireann (1989–1992) and served as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2002–2004), Minister for Transport (2004–2007) and Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2007–2008) and as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism from 2008–2010.

Background, early and private life[edit]

Martin Cullen was born in Waterford in 1954. He was educated at Waterpark College and the Regional Technical College, Waterford. He is married and has four children – three sons and one daughter. However, in late 2004 he stated that he was separated from his wife, Dorothy.

Cullen's father and grandfather had been Mayor of Waterford, a position Martin Cullen himself later occupied in 1993–94.[2]

Cullen worked as a sales manager for a wine company before becoming interested in politics.

Political career[edit]

Cullen was one of 14 Progressive Democrats TDs elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1987 general election, the first election after the party was founded. During his first period as a TD he served as his party's spokesperson on Tourism, Transport and Communications (1987–1988) and Industry and Commerce (1988–1989). Cullen lost his seat at the 1989 general election but was subsequently nominated by the Taoiseach to Seanad Éireann. During the intervening period he was elected to Waterford City Council, before returning to the Dáil at the 1992 general election.[3]

The following year he was appointed party spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment. In 1994 Cullen became disillusioned with the new party leader, Mary Harney, when he was not allowed to stand as a candidate in the European elections. He subsequently resigned from the party, eventually joining Fianna Fáil.

Ahern Government[edit]

In 1997 a Fianna FáilProgressive Democrats coalition government came to power and Cullen was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Finance.

After the Government's re-election in 2002, Cullen joined the Cabinet as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. As minister responsible for elections, his department was responsible for the voting system used. When Electronic voting was proposed for the 2004 Local and European elections, he stood by the proposed system despite opposition from within the Dáil and from some members of the public. When the system was scrapped his reputation was damaged. He was also the Minister responsible for the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act, 2002. This act amended Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to remove the requirement for builders to provide social housing on 20% of their developments. Instead, Cullen's plan allowed builders to subvert this requirement by paying the local council instead and thus ensured that a central motivation of the 2000 Act, namely to avoid run down council estates by integrating public and private housing, was overthrown. The vast majority of builders successfully avoided integrating social housing in their new developments and instead opted for making a payment to the local council.

In a cabinet reshuffle in 2004 Cullen was appointed Minister for Transport. During that appointment he became embroiled in even more controversy. Two independent reports have cleared him of any wrongdoing in the awarding of lucrative Public Relations contracts to Monica Leech, who subsequently became President of Waterford Chambers of Commerce.

With the support of a majority of Dáil Éireann, he was the minister responsible for the stock market floatation of Aer Lingus,[4] Ireland's national airline. According to the government this was done as the EU would not easily permit direct government investment in the airline.[5] The sale included Aer Lingus' access slots to various airports including London Heathrow Airport. Some critics at the time suggested that it was important that Ireland, as an island nation, retain control of an airline in order to ensure connectivity to nearby countries.[5] In May 2005, Minister Cullen told Dáil Éireann that "in the context of any decision to reduce State ownership in Aer Lingus, all the options available within the regulatory framework will be examined to ensure adequate ongoing access to Heathrow for Irish consumers".[6] Others, including members of Seanad Éireann[7] and Dáil Éireann[8] raised the issue of the Heathrow slots.

Shortly after the privatisation, Irish-based private airline Ryanair[9][10] attempted a takeover of Aer Lingus which was eventually blocked by other shareholders including the government (who retained a 28.3% share), Aer Lingus employee groups and Irish businessman Denis O'Brien.[11] Cullen maintained throughout that the sale of Aer Lingus was "the right decision".[12]

In August 2007, Aer Lingus announced that it would cease flying from Shannon Airport to London Heathrow Airport, instead using its Heathrow slots to fly from Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland. This decision caused considerable controversy in the Republic of Ireland.[13] principally due to the loss of connectivity from businesses in the West of Ireland to a major international hub. Local representatives in the Shannon area have claimed that Minister Cullen ignored calls to ring-fence slots for Shannon airport.[14] The airport access slots are held by Aer Lingus for historical reasons, as the national carrier for the Republic of Ireland. This was the first time since the privatisation of Aer Lingus that traditional Irish slots were transferred outside the state. Aer Lingus has admitted that they have further slots to lease at Heathrow.[15] It has also been revealed that they intended removing flights from Cork Airport.[16]

30th Daíl[edit]

Following the 2007 general election, he was appointed as Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

On 7 May 2008, when Brian Cowen became Taoiseach, Cullen was appointed as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. He commented a week later, "My private life has all been about the arts. There's probably not an opera theatre in the world that I haven't been in, all in my own private time, I hasten to add".[17]

In December 2008 he courted controversy by commenting on national radio that he would be supportive of having an Irish football club taking part in England's Premier League, despite the damage such a development would have on domestic football in Ireland, and the comments were also seen as unsuitable for the Minister for Arts, Sports, and Tourism. His comments that he would like to "see a European [football] team playing out of Dublin” suggested he was not aware of, or interested in, the six Dublin-based teams currently playing in domestic football.

In March 2009, a helicopter which was carrying him from Killarney to Dublin made an emergency landing shortly after take-off, because a door had fallen off. The minister was uninjured, but was reported to be "shaken".[18] It was reported that the flight had cost nearly €6,000. Cullen dismissed criticism at his use of the Air Corps helicopter, and said there had been no unnecessary spending on his travel.[19]

On 21 January 2010, he published his speech to the forum on Defamation Law, in which he spoke of his experiences of false allegations of adultery in the press. He felt "like waking up every morning and being raped", that he had been photographed on the front pages of Sunday newspapers for 13 consecutive weeks and that his sons had "had the living daylights"[20] beaten out of them for defending their father's honour and had to be removed from school due to "horrendous bullying".[20] Cullen described how he had been pursued by the media, with reporters harassing him, photographers following him, even once a photograph of him, the Taoiseach and his secretary, and a third man at a state function was altered to make it appear he was dining alone with the woman. The impacts on one’s life are completely horrendous. I would go so far as to say in my case they are life-changing." he said.[21] He later defended his use of the word "rape".[22]

Cullen announced his resignation from his ministerial office and as a TD on 8 March 2010, due to a back ailment that had been troubling him severely in the preceding months.[23] He stepped down on 23 March 2010 when Brian Cowen announced a cabinet reshuffle.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. Martin Cullen". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Waterford's cause reiterated as Cullen accepts accolade". The Waterford News & Star. 13 February 2004. 
  3. ^ "Martin Cullen". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 14 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Dáil supports Aer Lingus privatisation". RTÉ News. 6 July 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Response to question from Ms. Róisín Shortall (Speech). Dáil Éireann. 7 March 2006. 
  6. ^ O'Toole, Fintan (14 August 2007). "You get what you vote for". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  7. ^ Quinn, Mansergh (3 March 2004). Seanad Éireann – Volume 175 – 3 March 2004. Aer Lingus Bill 2003: Second Stage (Resumed). (Speech). 
  8. ^ Coveney, Timmins (12 December 2003). Dáil Éireann – Volume 577 – 12 December 2003. Aer Lingus Bill 2003: Second Stage (Resumed). (Speech). 
  9. ^ "Ryanair delivers formal takeover plan to Aer Lingus shareholders". Associated Press. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  10. ^ "Aer Lingus rejects Ryanair offer". BBC News. 5 October 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  11. ^ McEnaney, Tom (18 October 2006). "Aer Lingus: O'Brien's €43m bid to stop O'Leary". Irish Independent. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "Ryanair lifts stake in Aer Lingus". BBC News. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  13. ^ Ailish O'Hora, Fionnan Sheahan (10 August 2007). "Aer Lingus: there will be no return to Shannon". Irish Independent. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  14. ^ Senan Molony, Pat Flynn (7 August 2007). "Aer Lingus exit from Shannon 'flies in face of promise' to union". Irish Independent. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  15. ^ Edwards, Elaine (7 August 2007). "Aer Lingus Belfast move hits Shannon routes". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  16. ^ Conor Ryan, Stephen Rogers (16 August 2007). "Aer Lingus backs down on Cork route threat". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 16 August 2007. 
  17. ^ "Quotes of the week", Sunday Independent. 18 May 2008, p. 32.
  18. ^ "Door falls off Minister's helicopter". RTÉ News. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  19. ^ Ciara O'Brien, Anne Lucey (5 March 2009). "Cullen dismisses criticism of his use of Air Corps helicopter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 March 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "Media treatment akin to 'being raped' – Cullen". RTÉ News. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  21. ^ 'Your family gets followed. Your mother and father get followed' The Irish Times, 23 January 2010. Accessed 11 March 2010
  22. ^ "Cullen defends 'rape' comments". RTÉ News. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010. 
  23. ^ "Martin Cullen resigns from Dáil and Cabinet". RTÉ News. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010. 

External links[edit]

Oireachtas
Preceded by
Edward Collins
(Fine Gael)
Progressive Democrats Teachta Dála for Waterford
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Brian O'Shea
(Labour Party)
Preceded by
Jackie Fahey
(Fianna Fáil)
Progressive Democrats Teachta Dála for Waterford
1992–1994
Succeeded by
Himself
as Fianna Fáil TD
Preceded by
Himself
as Progressive Democrats TD
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Waterford
1994–2010
Succeeded by
Paudie Coffey
(Fine Gael)
Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh Coveney
Minister of State at the Department of Finance
1997–2002
Succeeded by
Tom Parlon
Preceded by
Noel Dempsey
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
2002–2004
Succeeded by
Dick Roche
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Minister for Transport
2004–2007
Succeeded by
Noel Dempsey
Minister for Social and Family Affairs
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Mary Hanafin
Preceded by
Séamus Brennan
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism
2008–2010
Succeeded by
Mary Hanafin
as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport