Dublin West, Longford-Westmeath byelections on May 23rd confirmed

Polls take place on the same date as European parliament and local elections

The Government has confirmed the

byelections in Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath will take place on May 23rd, the date of the local and European elections.

The Dublin West byelection follows the resignation of Independent and former Labour Party TD Patrick Nulty in a controversy about messages sent through social media.

The Longford-Westmeath byelection follows the death of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden, who died last month having suffered with motor neurone disease. Sympathy was also extended by all contributors in the debate to Mr Nulty on the recent death of his father.

'Crashed the car'
Moving the Dublin West byelection writ, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the electorate had a choice. "Do they hand the keys of the car back to the party that crashed the car in the first place or do they hand the keys of the car to parties and to political forces that don't know how to drive in the first place?"


Government chief whip Paul Kehoe, who moved the writ for the Longford-Westmeath byelection, paid tribute to Ms McFadden and the work she had done as a councillor, Senator and TD and a "committed member of the Fine Gael party".

He said she saw the person first and their politics second, “not always an easy thing to do for some of us in here”.

Fianna Fáil whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl acknowledged that the writs were being moved in "very difficult circumstances".

He said its candidates Aengus O'Rourke in Longford-Westmeath and David McGuinness in Dublin West would set out credible alternatives to the direction set by the Government.

Largest majority
He said Fine Gael and Labour enjoy the largest majority in the State's history. "I don't believe that they need more backbenchers to add to that dominance, but that is up to the people of both communities."

Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín said the real unemployment rate was 22.7 per cent when the number of emigrants, the number of unemployed and the number of people on “labour activation” projects without jobs were added up.

Socialist Party and Dublin West TD Joe Higgins, extending his sympathies to Mr Nulty, said: "The people of Dublin West are in a position to deal a massive blow to the destructive austerity agenda of Fine Gael and the Labour Party."

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times