Byelection can send message to Coalition about changing policies, says Bacik

Thursday’s vote widely seen as contest between Labour candidate and FG’s James Geoghegan

Housing was the key issue on the doors as the candidates entered the final week of the Dublin Bay South byelection. Video: Enda O'Dowd

The Dublin Bay South byelection “is not about changing the Government” but can send a message to the Coalition that it needs to change its policies, Labour candidate Ivana Bacik has said.

In her final press engagement ahead of Thursday’s vote, Ms Bacik said the Government had “a comfortable majority” which the bylection would not change.

However, she said candidates could use the poll as a means to demand change on issues such as housing, childcare and climate action.

“People do want change and we’re hearing a really strong message on the need for change,” she said.


Asked if she would give up her position as a lecturer in Trinity College Dublin – from which she is on a career break – if she won the election, Ms Bacik said she had not made a decision and would “see what happens on Thursday”.

Asked if it was fair that she could effectively keep a job open for herself while in politics, the Senator said: “There’s lot of different rules about that . . . as I say, it’s State policy on that, it’s there.”

Thursday’s vote is widely being seen as a contest between Fine Gael candidate James Geoghegan and Ms Bacik, something borne out by last week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The other candidates are Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin), Claire Byrne (Green Party), Deirdre Conroy (Fianna Fáil), Sarah Durcan (Social Democrats), Mairead Tóibín (Aontú), Brigid Purcell (People Before Profit), Justin Barrett (National Party), Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua) and Independent candidates Mannix Flynn, Peter Dooley, Dolores Cahill, John Keigher and Colm O’Keeffe.

Fine Gael is hopeful that transfers from coalition partners Fianna Fáil and the Greens will keep Mr Geoghegan ahead of Ms Bacik, in a constituency that shows high levels of satisfaction with the Government.

However, Labour believes that the momentum is with Ms Bacik and most observers expect her to pull ahead on transfers.

All parties will be making an effort to put in “get out the vote” operations on Thursday to make sure their supporters go to the polls to vote. Turnout is often weak at byelections and this constituency also has a history of low turnout.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times