By-elections bring test for republican politics in South

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Four by-elections in the 26 Counties are to go ahead on 29 November -- two in Dublin, one in Cork and one in Wexford. The by-elections follow the recent election of four TDs to the European Parliament, requiring them to relinquish their seats at Leinster House.

Speaking in the Dublin parliament, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said he was pleased the by-elections would be held so soon after the European elections. He highlighted that 10 years previously he had to go to the High Court to force a by-election in Donegal.

On that occasion, the court ruled that a 17-month delay was unreasonable. Doherty won the resulting by-election after Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher’s election to the European Parliament in June 2009.

Legislation enacted as a result now means that by-elections must be held within six months of a Dáil seat being vacated.

The four seats vacated that now have to be filled are:

Clare Daly (Ind.) – Dublin Fingal; Frances Fitzgerald (FG) – Dublin Mid-West; Billy Kelleher (FF) – Cork North-Central; Mick Wallace (Ind.) – Wexford.

Mr Doherty has said that Sinn Féin is fighting to win in all four by-elections.

Sinn Féin topped the poll in Dublin Mid-West in the 2016 general election with Eoin O Broin TD, and the constituency represents the best chance for a republican gain. Their expected candidate, former MEP Lynn Boylan, will not be running following her decision to take a break from politics. She has been canvassing for the selected candidate, local party councillor Mark Ward.

The other Sinn Féin candidates are Johnny Mythen in Wexford, who narrowly missed election in 2016, Cllr Thomas Gould in Cork North Central and Cllr Ann Graves in Dublin Fingal.

Mr Doherty said that the four are “excellent” candidates who work “day-in, day-out” to stand up for ordinary people and deliver for local communities.

He said people were being offered an alternative to the “failed policies” of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

“The past three and a half years have seen the housing and homelessness crisis spiral out of control,” he said.

“We have two parties that are wedded to failed policies and are doing nothing to improve the situation for ordinary workers and families and get us back to a position where the State and local Councils are building houses.

“We have a health service that is in a state of perpetual crisis. Crime is spiralling out of control, in both urban and rural areas.

“Sinn Féin would take a fundamentally different approach to the conservative alliance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in tackling the issues that affect ordinary people and communities.”

Aontú is also contesting two of the four constituencies, selecting Jim Codd in Wexford and Finian Toomey in Cork North Central. Party leader Peadar Tóibín described them as “hard working activists willing to challenge the establishment”.

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