Varadkar signals July date for Dublin Bay South byelection

Tánaiste says he expects date to be finalised during coming weeks

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said his party would ‘prefer a poll in the summer’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said his party would ‘prefer a poll in the summer’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar strongly signalled a July byelection in Dublin Bay South on Monday, as all parties prepare for the campaign to begin.

In a press conference with Fine Gael candidate James Geoghegan, Mr Varadkar said no final decision has been made on when the byelection in Dublin Bay South will take place but his party would “prefer a poll in the summer”.

“We can move the writ in the Dáil, but there has to be a vote and the date is actually set by Minister Darragh O’Brien, so we’ll need to talk to the other party leaders and we’ll sort it out in the next few weeks,” he said.

Fine Gael sources expect that the contest will take place in early July.

Mr Geoghegan was selected unopposed as the Fine Gael candidate after the former TD Kate O’Connell said she would not seek the party’s nomination as she believed she was not wanted by the leadership.

Fianna Fáil is expected to run one of two local councillors, Deirdre Conroy and Claire O’Connor, while Labour Party Senator Ivana Bacik formally accepted her party’s nomination on Monday.

Ms Bacik said the byelection was an opportunity to shake Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael “out of their complacency”.

Brigid Purcell will be the candidate for People Before Profit, while Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has also said he will run.

Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have yet to announce their candidates, while Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu and Cllr Claire Byrne are contesting the Green Party nomination.

Favourite

Fine Gael is favourite to win the seat in what is both one of the most affluent constituencies in the country and a traditionally strong base for the party.

However, significant parts of the constituency are less affluent than the areas of Ballsbridge, Donnybrook, Ranelagh and Rathgar, and the housing crisis will be felt across the entire constituency.

Asked if he had experienced the housing crisis in his own life, Mr Geoghegan said: “I’ve experienced it in my community. We experienced it yesterday in fact in Sandymount, we met a young solicitor who feels she’s paying too much rent and doesn’t see how she’s going to get on the property ladder. There’s lots of other people in the same situation, we see it all the time...”

Pressed by reporters about his own personal circumstances, he said he had a mortgage on his family home and declined to be drawn on whether he had received help from the “bank of mum and dad”.