FF blocks fill emptypoll bid to Dail seats
THE Government is appealing a High Court rap across the knuckles for not holding a by-election to prevent being forced to fill the vacancies in the Dail.
The coalition will hold the by-election in Donegal South-West in three weeks' time on Thursday, November 25.
But Fianna Fail and the Green Party voted down attempts to have the other three by-elections in Dublin South, Waterford and Donegal North-East held on the same day.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night committed again to holding the Dublin South and Waterford by-elections in the Spring -- but not the Donegal North-East vote.
The Donegal South-West by-election is being held after the High Court found there was an unreasonable delay in holding the vote, as 17 months have passed since the vacancy arose.
Fine Gael is now bringing legal proceedings seeking to have the by-elections in Waterford and Dublin South held as soon as possible.
But the Government's decision to appeal the High Court ruling to the Supreme Court is regarded as a means to block these cases.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the judgment had implications for the separation of powers and the Government needed to get a definitive clarification on the decision.
Mr Cowen said the Government had a constitutional right to appeal the ruling and there had to be certainty on the legal position regarding future by-elections.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Government was trying to prolong their stay in power by delaying the three other by-elections.
"It is refusing the people their mandate in respect of other by-elections pending, namely, Waterford, Dublin South and Donegal North-East," he said.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the appeal was a political ruse and the Government was forced to hold the by-election.
"The Government is presenting a formula which will allow the Donegal South-West by-election to go ahead, in respect of which it has no choice because the High Court has stated that by-election must go ahead, but which is designed to stop the other three by-elections from going ahead.
"It is manifestly a political ruse by Government to deprive the Dail from making a decision to hold the other three by-elections," he said.
Mr Cowen later asked his TDs and senators to campaign in the by-election.
Fianna Fail will select a candidate on Sunday for the by-election. The party will also appoint a director of elections with junior minister Dara Calleary from Mayo on the list of names being mentioned.