Ferris Supports Bill to Speed Up By Elections
Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris TD has supported a Fine Gael private members bill to make it mandatory on the Government to call a by election for any Dáil vacancy within six months of the seat being vacated. He said that this would avoid the current situation where the Government are dragging their feet over their fear of facing the electorate. He also criticised Fine Gael for failing to move the writ for the Dublin South by election caused by the resignation in February of George Lee.
Deputy Ferris said: “Given the Government’s refusal to call the by elections, it would be appropriate to take the power away from them and to remove from them the means to delay calling by elections in the way in which they are currently doing. Six months as proposed in the Fine Gael bill would be more than sufficient time to elapse between the vacancy arising and the by election being held and would ensure that the electorate in the constituency where the vacancy exists are given the opportunity within a reasonable time frame to allow a election to be organised to fill the seat.
“Having praised Fine Gael for bringing this Bill before us, I must also however make some small criticism of them. The criticism has to do with the Dublin South constituency and the vacancy left there since their high profile recruit George Lee decided after a remarkably short time that Fine Gael was not after all the answer either to his own or the country’s needs and departed somewhat unceremoniously.
“It might be argued in the context of this Bill perhaps that it refers to a six months period of grace before the proposed legislation would make it mandatory to call a by election for a vacancy and that George Lee only resigned in February so that if this Bill was passed the by election would not have to be called until before the end of July. However Fine Gael have rightly called for a by election to be held in Waterford to replace former Minister Martin Cullen and it is less than three months since he decided to call it a day for health reasons.
“Therefore surely if Fine Gael are to be consistent they should also move the writ for Dublin South where they must surely, despite whatever problems they might be having with finding another candidate, be in pole position to retain that seat. It would also of course provide another opportunity to allow a section of the electorate the opportunity to cast their votes on the current Government, which I have, little doubt would once again be a damning one.
“That would also give Fine Gael plenty of time to persuade Eamon Dunphy or Bono or Giovanni Trappatoni or Brian O’Driscoll to become their newest celebrity acquisition given that none of their actual representatives in the constituency seem to be particularly enthusiastic and one person who was tipped to run has actually resigned altogether from politics.”