Govt sets by-election date
Govt sets by-election date

In the wake of today’s High Court decision, the Dublin government has announced this evening that a by-election will be held between November 22nd and 29th in Donegal South-West alone.

It also said that it is going to appeal today’s decision to the Supreme Court but, in defiance of today’s court ruling, declined to name a date for the other three pending by-elections.

The High Court ruled this morning there had been an unreasonable delay in moving the writ for the Donegal South-West poll.

The Court granted a declaration sought by Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty and ruled that the delay amounted to a breach of Senator Doherty’s constitutional rights.

The seat has been vacant since June last year.

Today’s judgment did not prescribe a specific time limit for parliamentary seats to lie empty, but noted that the government’s own Law Reform Commission has recommended a limit of 90 days.

Three other seats in the Dail are vacant, the latest arising from the resignation of Jim McDaid earlier this week. A seat in the Dublin South constituency has been vacant for nine months, while another in Waterford has been empty for almost eight.

While the opposition parties have urged the government not to waste more taxpayers’ money in its efforts to prevent the by-elections, the coalition government is struggling to hold onto power with a working majority of just three seats.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said today the delay in calling the Donegal South-West by-election was unprecedented.

It was the longest in the history of the State and represented a significant proportion of the five-year Dail term.

He said far from the Court tearing asunder the provisions of the Constitution by adjudicating on this application - as claimed by the government - it was the ongoing failure to call the by-election, which offended the terms and spirit of the Constitution and its framework for democratic representation.

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