Byelections to fill four vacant Dáil seats set for November 29th

Polls to be held in Cork North Central, Dublin Fingal, Dublin Mid-West and Wexford

The Government will move the writ in the Dáil on Thursday for the byelections on November 29th to replace four TDs who were elected to the European parliament.

Minister for Housing and Local Government Eoghan Murphy will bring a motions before the Dáil giving the go-ahead for the elections in Cork North Central, Dublin Fingal, Dublin Mid-West and Wexford.

The byelections – to fill vacancies left by Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil); Clare Daly (Independent); Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) and Mick Wallace (Independent) – will be seen as something of a bellwether of the general election, which is expected in the first half of 2020.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated his own preference is for May of next year while Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he would favour an election in Spring.


Mr Varadkar last week quelled speculation by ruling out an early election in November, despite pressure from many of his own colleagues, who believed now was the best time to go to the country. They cited success in Brexit negotiations as well as the reverse suffered by Fianna Fáil over the so-called ‘Votegate’ controversy.


Ahead of Thursday’s motion, some 32 candidates have already declared as candidates, with 11 in Dublin Mid West alone.

Despite taking criticism over proxy voting by its TDs, Fianna Fáil is still considered the slight favourite in three of the four by-elections.

Cllr Pádraig O’Sullivan, its candidate in Cork North Central, is the strong favourite to replace Mr Kelleher. His main rivals are seen as Senator Colm Bourke of Fine Gael; John Maher of the Labour Party; Thomas Gould of Sinn Féin, Oliver Moran of the Greens, and Sinéad Halpin of the Social Democrats.

Dublin Mid West is seen as difficult to call. Cllr Emer Higgins is seen as a strong candidate but she will face strong opposition from the Independent councillor Paul Gogarty, a former Green Party TD.

The Green Party candidate Peter Kavanagh is also seen as a contender, as is former Labour TD Joanna Tuffy, Ann-Marie McNally of the Social Democrats and Fianna Fail councillor Shane Moynihan. Mark Ward is the Sinn Féin candidate and another independent councillor Francis Timmons.

In Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fáil senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has been installed as the early favourite but there are other candidates who will be seen as having a good chance of winning the seat. That includes former Fine Gael TD, Senator James Reilly, Green Party councillor Joe O’Brien and Cllr Duncan Smith of Labour. Ann Graves is the Sinn Féin councillor while Tracey Carey is running for the Social Democrats. Former journalist Gemma O’Doherty is standing as an Independent candidate.

Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne’s strong showing in the European Elections makes him the early front-runner in Wexford. His main electoral threat is seen as Verona Murphy, the haulage industry spokesperson, who is running for Fine Gael. Labour stalwart Cllr George Lawlor is a candidate and the Greens have chosen environmental activist Karin Dubsky. Johnny Mythen is the Sinn Féin candidate.

Once the writ is moved on Thursday, the Minister must publish a notice of election. Official nominations will be accepted from 10am the day after the notice is published. The latest time for receiving nominations will be 12pm on Monday, November 18th.

The department said the deposit for each candidate will be €500.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times