The full hearing of a legal challenge by Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty to the Dublin government’s refusal to move the writ for a by-election in the Donegal South West constituency is expected to be heard on October 18th at the High Court.
Mr Doherty’s challenge arises out of the vacancy created by the election of Pat “the Cope” Gallagher to the European Parliament last year.
Outside the court, Mr Doherty accused the Government of “running scared” of the Donegal South West by-election and other pending by-elections.
“If they had any sense of decency they would have used the opportunity today to set a date for an election rather than a court case,” he said.
“They are attempting to defend the indefensible and the fact that they have come to the High Court to defend this is an indictment on their record and a testament of their fear of facing the electorate.
“This is an arrogant excuse for a Government which is more interested in its own fate than it is in the democratic rights of the citizens of this state.
“It has continually failed the people of my constituency and has arrogantly left them under-represented for more than a year at a time when a third of the workforce is unemployed, when our general hospital is facing ward closures and when some of our community hospitals are facing full closure.
“This whole episode highlights the urgent need for a reform of the system of dealing with Dail vacancies as they arise.”
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, who attended the court hearing, said he was not surprised the coalition was resisting the attempt to force the by-election.
“I think it’s really a mark of this Government,” Mr Adams said, and accused the Government of acting without mandate in the three constituencies that have a vacancy for a TD.
“It is a disgrace that the government had to be forced into court today to answer for their behaviour and it is an even bigger disgrace that they are going to waste taxpayers’ money and time fighting this case in an attempt to postpone the inevitable.
“The right to the vote and to representation was hard fought for by men and women on this island over many generations. It is disgraceful that any government can so easily push that right to one side. There is no legitimate reason to delay the holding of by-elections. They are running scared from the people.
“And while the Government refuses to hold these by-elections it has been making some very serious decisions which affect the every day lives of ordinary citizens such as the decision to cut social welfare rates, the decision to pump further billions into Anglo Irish Bank and to cut services for people with disabilities.”