Sinn Fein accused of by-election dirty tricks by Higgins
Published 19/05/2014 | 02:30
Election literature handed out by the campaign team of the Sinn Fein candidate Paul Donnelly claims Gerry Adams' party is the "leading party on the left".
The leaflets tell voters Sinn Fein's recent surging support in Dublin is also reflected in the Dublin West constituency and that Mr Donnelly is well-positioned to take the Dail seat.
But the contents of Mr Donnelly's election literature have sparked a war of words with Mr Higgins' Socialist Party, whose candidate Ruth Coppinger is seen as being a front-runner in Friday's poll along with Fianna Fail's David McGuinness.
Mr Higgins, who is not contesting the next general election, released his own literature describing Sinn Fein's claims as being part of a dirty tricks campaign.
"Unfortunately Sinn Fein are distributing a leaflet that falsely states their support and tries to diminish Ruth (Coppinger)," Mr Higgins wrote.
"In the last by-election, Sinn Fein got 8.9pc but Ruth got 21pc. This by-election is a choice between Fianna Fail or Ruth, who is fighting for a better future for us all. Sinn Fein will not be forgiven by people if they engage in dirty tricks and as a result Fianna Fail gets elected."
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Higgins said he took serious issue" with what he called "blatant dishonesty".
He said: "Sinn Fein is using poll figures nationally to pretend that their standing in Dublin West is equally high. What they are doing could facilitate a Fianna Fail comeback and they won't be forgiven for that."
Mr Donnelly last night defended the leaflet: "We stand over what we said. Sinn Fein is the only real alternative to the current establishment's austerity agenda. We believe that we are in with a real chance of securing the seat in the area and the response from constituents indicates to me that people are desperate for change and Sinn Fein will be that change."
The by-election is hotly contested, with a number of candidates in with a chance of securing the seat. The result will be strongly shaped by transfers and whether a high turnout is recorded.