Election 2019 home

Opposition to have a say in when Dáil by-elections held

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's power to call four Dáil by-elections is likely to be taken from him, under rules which allow the Opposition have a say.

Following the election of Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher and Independents4Change's Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to the European Parliament, their Dáil seats have to be filled.

Given the Government's minority position in the Dáil, should a sufficient number of TDs obtain a majority to pass a motion, they could force the pace as to when the seats will be filled.

Under law, the by-elections must take place within six months from the time the seats are vacated.

According to the Department of Housing, it is the Dáil that has to direct the Ceann Comhairle to direct the Clerk of the Dáil to issue the writ to the returning officers to conduct the elections in their areas.

For that to happen, the Dáil must be sitting, so the writs could not be moved during the summer break, making the suggestion of holding of the by-elections in September, as has been suggested, unlikely.

Opposition to have a say in when Dáil by-elections held

The by-elections would have to occur in Dublin Mid West where Ms Fitzgerald was a TD, Cork North Central where Mr Kelleher was elected, Dublin Fingal where Ms Daly was elected and Wexford where Mr Wallace was a TD.

Since the weekend of the local and European elections, there has been much speculation as to when the general election will happen.

Mr Varadkar has fuelled a belief that the by-elections may not happen and that he will move directly to a full dissolution of the Dáil.

He told a meeting of Fine Gael TDs and Senators last week that at the next election, the faces of all Fine Gael TDs will be on the posters.

Several sources said the Taoiseach also gave an indication that by-elections to fill seats vacated by new MEPs will not happen, and a general election is more likely this year.

“He told the room at the next election that all our faces will be on the ballot paper, which we all took as by-elections will not happen,” one source said.

More on this topic

Call to introduce local election gender quotasCall to introduce local election gender quotas

Sinn Féin ard chomhairle meets for 'very honest conversation' after disastrous election performanceSinn Féin ard chomhairle meets for 'very honest conversation' after disastrous election performance

Green Party spearheads five-year deal to move Dublin towards 'zero-carbon' statusGreen Party spearheads five-year deal to move Dublin towards 'zero-carbon' status

23% of councillors elected into local government were women23% of councillors elected into local government were women