Independents win by-elections


Independents have won two parliamentary by-elections which took place on Friday 10th October. In both seats the vacancies were caused by TDs taking up seats in the European Parliament.

In the Dublin South West constituency Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance won a surprise victory over Cathal King of Sinn Féin although it went to the ninth count before a result was announced. The seat had been held by the ruling Fine Gael, although in the four seat constituency Labour had taken two seats, Fine Gael one seat and Sinn Féin one seat in the 2011 general election. Turnout was just 34.5%. Prime Minister Enda Kenny put on a brave face but the loss of a seat and a third place in the by-election was a poor result for the party with a general election due by 3rd April 2016.

In the Roscommon–South Leitrim by-election the seat had been held by an Independent and it took Michael Fitzmaurice to the eighth count to overcome Fianna Fáil candidate Ivan Connaughton. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will be disappointed with the result because a win would have given the main opposition party hope of winning the general election.

The ruling Fine Gael Party also lost a seat in the Senate (Seanad Éireann) on Friday in a by-election. Although the Electoral College is limited to the members of the Dáil and Seanad the party still managed to lose the election to an Independent, Gerard Craughwell. Ineptitude on the part of the party led to something called the McNultygate affair, named after the Fine Gael candidate, John McNulty. The result has left the government without a majority in the upper house; they now have 29 seats in the 60 seat Senate (Fine Gael 18, Labour 11).

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