Varadkar: Difficult for FG to win by-elections

Varadkar: Difficult for FG to win by-elections

The Taoiseach has conceded that it will be very difficult for Fine Gael to win seats in the upcoming by-elections.

Leo Varadkar has said he would like to win all four seats which were vacated following May’s European elections. However, he has admitted “that’s not going to happen”.

By-elections in Wexford, Cork North Central, Dublin Mid-West and Dublin Fingal have been set for November 29.

As he canvassed with Fine Gael’s Dublin Mid West candidate Emer Higgins, Mr Varadkar said: “We will be fighting a really good campaign in all four constituencies, but I am very conscious that it’s very hard for governments to win by-elections.

It’s been relatively uncommon, I think governments only won by-elections on three occasions in 30 years, but we will be aiming to take at least one of them and putting up a really good campaign in all of them.”

Asked if the minority government could be jeopardised if Fine Gael fails to win at least one seat, Mr Varadkar said:

“There are many permutations and combinations as to how it might affect the arithmetic in the Dáil.

So it would actually depend you know, if Dublin Fingal or Wexford which had been Clare Daly’s and Mick Wallace’s seats go to Fianna Fáil, that’s actually a plus for the Government because that would be a vote that’s abstaining rather than a vote that is voting against us.

Fianna Fáil has selected councillor Pádraig O’Sullivan as its candidate to fill the seat vacated by Billy Kelleher in Cork North-Central.

However, he will face competition from a number of strong contenders including Fine Gael senator Colm Burke and Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould.

In Wexford, there is likely to be a tight contest between Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne and president of the Irish Road Haulage Association Verona Murphy, who is Fine Gael’s candidate.

The two remaining seats are in Dublin North, where Independents 4 Change politician Clare Daly took a European seat, and Dublin Mid West which Frances Fitzgerald represented before her Brussels election.

Separately, the Taoiseach expressed full confidence in the development board of National Children’s Hospital after it was revealedthat the full cost of the project will not now be known until after it is finished.

I have confidence the board and particularly the new chair of the board, Fred Barry, who’s somebody I worked with in Transport and ran the Nationals Roads Authority really well, managed to move to a position where it projects were coming in on budget and on time.

Mr Varadkar claimed it is “pretty typical” for a major construction project that the exact final price wouldn’t be calculated until all of the work is completed “because things do arise along the way”.

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