The long-awaited Donegal South West by-election will be held on Thursday November 25, it was revealed today.
Plans to contest the seat, empty for 17 months, were unveiled after the Government was severely criticised yesterday for the delay by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.
Tánaiste Mary Coughlan announced the date as the Opposition accused the coalition of trying to stay in power by delaying three other by-elections.
The Government last night announced it was to appeal against the High Court judgment, but would move the writ for the poll.
In the Dáil Ms Coughlan said: “It is proposed that the election will take place three weeks from today, on Thursday 25 November 2010.”
The president of the High Court ruled the Government had offended the spirit of the constitution by failing to hold the long-awaited poll, adding that the delays in Donegal South West had been unreasonable.
Ms Coughlan said the Government was appealing against the decision because the judgment had raised constitutional issues concerning the separation of powers between the judiciary and Oireachtas.
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin O Caolain said the Government was appealing to delay by-elections in Waterford, after former minister Martin Cullen resigned on health grounds, Dublin South, left empty by journalist George Lee, and Donegal North East, vacated by Jim McDaid.
“The Government claims to want to appeal this case in order to clarify the issues. That is nonsense. The issues could not be clearer. The judgment is crystal clear,” he said.
“The reality is that the Government wants to appeal this in order to forestall citizens in Waterford and Dublin South from taking the same course as Senator Pearse Doherty.”
The Dáil was suspended twice amid rowdy scenes involving the Opposition.