Sinn Fein’s Senator Pearse Doherty, has called for the government to “do the right thing and call a general election” following the High Court ruling that the government must hold the Donegal South West by-election.
He had argued that the 16 month gap in filling the seat was unconstitutional. The Green Party, the minority partner in government has agreed with the decision.
Ireland’s High Court President, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has ruled in favor Sinn Fein’s claim that the government did not act in the spirit of the Constitution by failing to hold a Donegal South West by-election.
Waterford, Dublin South, and Donegal North East are also waiting for vacant seats to be filled following the resignation of former Fianna Fáil TD Jim McDaid yesterday. He also said that a general election should be called before the December budget. The government has only a two vote majority and is expected to lose the by-elections.
It is now thought that they will hold the Donegal election before Christmas and then call a general election early in 2012
Judge Kearns supported the claim that the injunction for the vote should have been moved during the 16 months since the seat was vacated by Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, after his election to Europe.
Senator Pearse Doherty, of Sinn Fein, took issue with the judicial review and called for a date to be set for the vote. However the Judge did not order a date to be set.
Doherty said “I was forced to bring the Government kicking and screaming before the courts over its denial of democracy…With three other by-elections now due, the Government has little if any prospect of survival. The game is now up. The Taoiseach should now do the right thing and call a general election.”
During the ruling Judge Kearns said “I am satisfied that the delay in this case is so inordinate as to amount to a breach of the applicant’s constitutional rights to such a degree as to warrant the court granting some form of relief.
“Far from the court tearing asunder the provisions of the Constitution by adjudicating on this application, it is the ongoing failure to move the writ for this by-election since June 2009 which offends the terms and spirit of the Constitution and its framework for democracy.”
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said he will be move to order a by-election tomorrow in parliament. Mary Coughlan will be present and is a TD for the constituency.
Chief Whip for the Irish government, John Curran said the government could not comment until they considered the implications of the judgment. He said “I believe any further comment prior to this consideration is premature.” Prime Minister Brian Cowen agreed.
Dan Boyle, Green Party Senator also wanted to move to have the by-election immediately. He said “We’ve come to the conclusion that our position as a party should be that the impact of the High Court decision should be followed through in its spirit and the by-election for Donegal South West should be held immediately at the soonest opportunity to move the writ,” he said. Boyle also called for the other three votes to take place in the Spring.