Cowen does little to clear up confusion over by-elections
Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday failed to clear up the doubts he has caused over the holding of the outstanding by-elections in the early part of next year.
Mr Cowen again declined to say if all three by-elections would be held on the same day. However, he did confirm that the Government still intended to hold all the by-elections in the spring.
Mr Cowen sparked confusion over the Coalition's by-election plans last weekend when he appeared to suddenly differentiate between the three votes.
He guaranteed the Donegal South West vote would be held in the spring, while failing to commit to that date for votes in Dublin South and Waterford.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny asked Mr Cowen to clear up the matter.
"Is it the intention of the Government to move the writs for the three by-elections and hold them on a date some time in the spring?" he asked yesterday.
Mr Cowen's suggestion that the by-elections would be held on different days undermines Environment Minister John Gormley's preference for the three by-elections, the Dublin mayor election and the children's rights referendum all to be held on the one day.
Mr Gormley said it would be more cost-effective to hold all the votes together.
But the prospect of one by-election being held early raises questions over the mayor's election and the referendum.