Byelections 2019: Byrne hits out at racism in politics after win in Wexford

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

Byelections 2019: Byrne hits out at racism in politics after win in Wexford

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.

Mr Byrne topped to poll in the Wexford by-election securing 12,506 first preference votes, but was closely followed by Labour's George Lawlor and Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy.

He failed to meet the quota but secured the seat on the fifth count with 18,830 votes, edging out Mr Lawlor who ended up on 14,476 votes.

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."

He added that democracy is a very "fragile but important thing" before thanking his family and party colleagues for their support.

Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy came third in the race with just 71 votes separating her and Mr Lawlor after the fourth count but vowed that she will run for the party in the next General Election.

She sparked controversy during the campaign over her repeated comments on those seeking asylum in Ireland.

Ms Murphy said she now wants to focus on local issues which came up on the doors during the by-election campaign and has already apologised for asylum seeker comments.

"I've raised the vote of Fine Gael in the county Wexford, so we have another six months in which to prepare for a general election," she said of her intention to run for the party.

Asked about her controversial remarks which she made about asylum seekers during the election campaign, Ms Murphy said: "I've apologised for those comments and that's all you have to say on that."

Thanking those in Fine Gael who canvassed with her, she said: "We had a wonderful campaign. I had huge support.

"What I am most looking forward to now is getting down to the issues that the people raised on the doorsteps and that I can get to work."

However, she admitted that the election campaign had been a "learning curve".

Earlier, Mr Byrne said he had ran a "positive campaign" which was focused on the issues that matter to those living in the constituency

He said: "It is concerning at when, you know, candidates make remarks as part of a strategy that just is a dog whistle strategy. It's never been the kind of politics that I think is appropriate. And I don't think that, you know, the voters and Co Wexford thought it was appropriate."

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