Residents of Donegal’s outlying islands are casting their by-election votes today [Monday].
Almost 800 people on five islands are entitled to vote early in the Donegal South West poll.
The remainder of the constituency will vote on Thursday.
An opinion poll taken last week shows Sinn Fein’s Donegal South West candidate Pearse Doherty leading the field. It was a result of Doherty’s High Court action that forced Fianna Fail to allow the election go ahead.
An opinion conducted by RedC Research on behalf of bookmaker Paddy Power shows the Sinn Fein senator is set to take 40 per cent of first preference votes.
Fianna Fail candidate Senator Brian O Domhnaill is on target to take 19 per cent, followed by Fine Gael’s Barry O’Neill on 15 per cent and Labour Party candidate Frank McBrearty on 14 cent.
The seat has been vacant since Fianna Fail’s Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher won a European Parliament seat in June, 2009.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today [Monday] joined the party’s Donegal South West candidate Pearse Doherty on the by-election campaign trail.
The Sinn Féin leader and Mr Doherty were canvassing voters in Ballybofey/Stranorlar, Raphoe, Lifford and Castlefin.
Mr Doherty said Donegal’s island communities will be worst affected by the impact of government budget cuts.
He urged as many islanders as possible to cast their votes.
“It is imperative that the whole of this constituency shows its anger and opposition to the draconian budget cuts which are being pursued by this government,” Senator Doherty declared.
“That is particularly true of our island communities which have borne the brunt of decades of neglect and under-investment.
“Because of this neglect, our island communities are even less well-equipped than the rest of the county to cope with the budget cuts. Therefore, I am urging the people of Arannmore, Tory, Inishfree, Gola, and Inisboffin to show that they are not prepared to tolerate this neglect by sending a very clear message to Fianna Fáil when they go to the polls today.
“Our islanders have the right to the same level of public services as the rest of us. They have a right to the good healthcare and education. They have a right to make a decent living and for a sustainable fishing industry.
“All of these rights have been denied to them by this government and I am saying very clearly that this by-election offers them the opportunity to show that it is time for change – it is time for a better way.”
Speaking in Gaoth Dobhair, Mr Adams said the coalition government was not trusted by the Irish people, “and for good reason”.
“There is no confidence in it here or on the international markets.
“For the past week government Ministers have tried to mislead citizens about the IMF/EU/ECB bailout.
“The government has made political choices which created and deepened the economic crisis. Government policy has burdened citizens with huge debts. All of this to bailout the banks.
“The people of Donegal South West have a chance this Thursday to have their say on these issues in a by-election which the government tried to prevent. Without Sinn Féin and Pearse Doherty there would be no by-election.
“I am calling upon voters here to make a stand. Stand up for Donegal and stand up for Ireland.”