|Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism|
7 May 2008 – 23 March 2010
|Preceded by||Séamus Brennan|
|Succeeded by||Mary Hanafin|
|Minister for Social and Family Affairs|
14 June 2007 – 7 May 2008
|Preceded by||Séamus Brennan|
|Succeeded by||Mary Hanafin|
|Minister for Transport|
29 September 2004 – 14 June 2007
|Preceded by||Séamus Brennan|
|Succeeded by||Noel Dempsey|
|Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government|
6 June 2002 – 29 September 2004
|Preceded by||Noel Dempsey|
|Succeeded by||Dick Roche|
|Minister of State at the Department of Finance|
8 July 1997 – 6 June 2002
|Preceded by||Hugh Coveney|
|Succeeded by||Tom Parlon|
November 1992 – March 2010
February 1987 – June 1989
12 October 1989 – 25 November 1992
|Constituency||Nominated by the Taoiseach|
|Born||2 November 1954|
|Political party||Fianna Fáil|
|Progressive Democrats (until 1994)|
|Alma mater||Waterford Institute of Technology|
Martin Cullen (born 2 November 1954) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil politician who served as Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism from 2008 to 2010, Minister for Social and Family Affairs from 2007 to 2008, Minister for Transport from 2004 to 2007, Minister for Transport from 2004 to 2007, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of State at the Department of Finance from 1997 to 2002. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Waterford constituency from 1987 to 1989 and from 1992 to 2010. He was a Senator from 1989 to 1992, after being nominated by the Taoiseach.
Background, early and private life
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, Dorthe.
Cullen worked as a sales manager for a wine company before becoming interested in politics. He was also Chief Executive of the Irish Transport Operators.
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.
The following year he was appointed party spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment. In 1994 Cullen became disillusioned with the Progressive Democrat Party. He subsequently resigned from the party, eventually joining Fianna Fáil.
In 1997 a Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition government came to power and Cullen was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Finance. He was also given responsibility for the Office of Public Works where he made huge progress in restoring the reputation of that Department with number of high-profile projects, such as Leinster House 2000 and the purchase of the Farmleigh estate from Edward Guinness.
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, he inherited a previous government decision to move to an electronic-based system which was successfully tested by the previous government. However a media-led campaign which became highly politicized, derailed public confidence in the new system coupled with a desire to retain the old paper system. The electronic system was ultimately scrapped by government years later. He took a strong interest in Environmental Policies and introduced the highly successful "Race Against Waste Campaign" which had a huge impact on how domestic waste was separated and collected. Ireland assumed the European Presidency during his tenure and he became President of the European Environmental Council and played a significant role at the world Earth Summits.
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 flotation of Aer Lingus, Ireland's national airline. According to the government this was done as the EU would not easily permit direct government investment in the airline. 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. 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". Others, including members of Seanad Éireann and Dáil Éireann raised the issue of the Heathrow slots.
Shortly after the privatisation, Irish-based private airline Ryanair 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. Cullen maintained throughout that the sale of Aer Lingus was "the right decision".
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. 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. 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. It has also been revealed that they intended removing flights from Cork Airport.
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".
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". 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.
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" beaten out of them for defending their father's honour and had to be removed from school due to "horrendous bullying". 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. He later defended his use of the word "rape".
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. He stepped down on 23 March 2010 when Brian Cowen announced a cabinet reshuffle.
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- Response to question from Ms. Róisín Shortall (Speech). Dáil Éireann. 7 March 2006.
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- Ailish O'Hora, Fionnan Sheahan (10 August 2007). "Aer Lingus: there will be no return to Shannon". Irish Independent. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- 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.
- Edwards, Elaine (7 August 2007). "Aer Lingus Belfast move hits Shannon routes". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- Conor Ryan, Stephen Rogers (16 August 2007). "Aer Lingus backs down on Cork route threat". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
- "Quotes of the week", Sunday Independent. 18 May 2008, p. 32.
- "Door falls off Minister's helicopter". RTÉ News. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
- 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.
- "Media treatment akin to 'being raped' – Cullen". RTÉ News. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- 'Your family gets followed. Your mother and father get followed' The Irish Times, 23 January 2010. Accessed 11 March 2010
- "Cullen defends 'rape' comments". RTÉ News. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "Martin Cullen resigns from Dáil and Cabinet". RTÉ News. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.