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Constituency's vote postponed after candidate dies

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A delay to General Election voting in Tipperary means people in the constituency could have an unprecedented influence over the make-up of the next government.

The sudden death of candidate Marese Skehan, from Thurles, means polling will have to be delayed until at least February 13.

Postal votes already cast in the five-seat contest will be scrapped and nominations will reopen for nine days.

Officials were unable to say when a new polling date will be set, but some experts predicted the situation could also require the return of Dáil on February 20 to be rescheduled.

A number of candidates in Tipperary last night indicated they will temporarily suspend campaigning as a mark of respect for Ms Skehan.

She was campaigning to be an Independent TD for the five-seat constituency.

Her passing means Tipperary will almost certainly know who is best placed to form the next government before voting.

This could have major implications for the main parties in contention.

Fine Gael desperately wanted to win a seat, having lost two in 2016 when the county was unified into one constituency.

Despite having enough votes to elect a TD, the party managed to win no seat.

However, based on opinion polls to date, Fianna Fáil has hopes of taking a second seat.

Independents Michael Lowry and Mattie McGrath and Fianna Fáil's Jackie Cahill were all vying to top the poll.

Labour's Alan Kelly was expected to be elected too, but he had to guard his north county stronghold from Independent Joe Hannigan.

Returning officer for Tipperary James Seymour has been in contact with the Department of Environment.

Irish Independent