Byelections 2019: Fine Gael suffer blow after failing to win any seats

Byelections 2019: Fine Gael suffer blow after failing to win any seats

Additional reporting by Elaine Loughlin, Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Kevin O'Neill

The Government has suffered a blow after failing to win any seats in four byelections which could provide clues before the whole country goes to the polls next year.

By-elections were held this week in four constituencies.

  • Dublin Mid-West: 'Good day for working class' as SF's Mark Ward takes Dáil seat
  • Cork North Central: FF's Padraig O'Sullivan 'honoured' with win but 'it's back out campaigning soon'
  • Wexford: Byrne hits out at racism in politics after win in Wexford
  • Dublin Fingal: 'There's momentum behind us': O'Brien celebrates first Green byelection win

Fine Gael and its tight margin for passing laws with the support of a coalition of independents will shrink further following the result of Friday’s vote in parts of Dublin, Wexford and Cork.

The byelections were held to fill vacancies left by TDs elected to the European Parliament in May.

Party leader Leo Varadkar faces a general election for the Dail parliament next spring while grappling with the ongoing impact of Brexit on the economy.

The Taoiseach is facing fierce criticism from Fianna Fáil and left-wing opponents over issues like homelessness.

A vote of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is due to be held next week.

Sinn Féin's Mark Ward has been elected to the Dail on the ninth count in the Dublin Mid West by-election, a result party leader Mary Lou McDonald said was a good day for the “working class”.

The Clondalkin councillor beat Fine Gael councillor Emer Higgins by just 500 votes in the end to secure a place in the four-seater constituency.

Celebrating with family and campaigners, Mr Ward declared that his first job when he walks into the Dail next Tuesday will be vote against Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in a Dail motion.

In Cork North-Central, Fianna Fail's Padraig O'Sullivan claimed the seat in the on the tenth count.

Mr O'Sullivan had been the early frontrunner, claiming 27.6% of the first preference votes and he never relinquished that lead.

He fills the seat vacated by party colleague Billy Kelleher earlier this year. Kelleher had been a TD in Cork North-Central for more than two decades before his election to the European Parliament.

Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne has said there is no place for racism in politics after being elected in the Wexford by-election.

The candidate, who out in a strong performance in May's European Parliament elections, won the seat vacated by Mick Wallace who has taken up a seat in Brussels.

Speaking after his election, Mr Byrne said: "Racism and the language of hate and division has no place in Wexford politics. Wexford is better than that."

Meanwhile, The Green Party is celebrating its first-ever by-election victory in Dublin-Fingal after Joe O'Brien secured the seat vacated by Clare Daly after the eighth count.

Mr O'Brien, a Skerries-based councillor, fended off the challenge of Fianna Fail's Lorraine Clifford-Lee who finished in second place and Labour's Duncan Smith who finished in third position.

Mr O'Brien was formally elected with 12,315 votes having topped the poll and led the field from the front all the way through.

Speaking to reporters after his victory, Mr O'Brien said he was humbled and honoured to have been elected but said it was the result of more than seven years effort.

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