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The Sky might fall down!

May 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Irish Politics

A private members debate concluded tonight with the Government defeating a Fine Gael proposal to compel that by-elections to be held within six months of a vacancy arising. There are currently 3 vacancies to be filled in Donegal South West, Dublin South and Waterford. The Donegal vacancy is nearly a year old with the resignation of Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher after his election to the European Parliament in June of last year.

It was interesting to read the excuses why there should not be any legally based timeframe put in place for by elections to be held. However the ‘take the biscuit’ award should go the Minister for Environment and Local Government (and therefore the Minister for Elections) John Gormley.

Last night Gormley explained that some calamities might befall the state and a time limit for the holding of an election should not be imposed.

Deputy John Gormley: This Bill proposes to amend section 39 of the Electoral Act 1992 to compel the holding of a by-election not later than six months after a vacancy occurs. The Bill recognises and retains the reference to the role of the Dáil in directing that a by-election be held but then swiftly undermines that role by forcing the Dáil to act within six months. This mechanical approach to holding by-elections does not take account of unforeseen events or prevailing circumstances which may not be conducive to holding elections within that time frame. I can think of two emergency health situations in recent years – swine flu and foot and mouth disease – which could have led to the deferment of elections.

Deputy Phil Hogan: The Minister dug deep for those.

Deputy John Gormley: We do not have control over such matters and must be able to respond appropriately. It is necessary that we retain the flexibility that allows our elected representatives to make the necessary judgement call as circumstances require.

Deputy David Stanton: There is no swine flu now.

Tonight in reply to Gormley’s speech, Alan Shatter TD (FG Dublin South) replied and suggested a few other calamities for the Minister’s list.

Should he change his mind and support the Bill this evening I would like to suggest the following Green related natural disasters that he may wish to propose be referenced in the Bill as sound grounds for postponing bye-elections. All of these are as credible as the two examples given by him of ‘unforeseen events’ that the Bill should address. They are:

1. A coup by a green army of garden gnomes

2. A volcanic eruption on Achill Island

3. A plague of locusts

4. Ireland struck by a meteorite

5. A Martian or other extra-terrestrial landing

6. The commencement in Ireland of an annual hurricane season

“Of course another defect in the Bill is the absence of any provision to prescribe an appropriate course of action should a bye-election be held and your pet dog in the polling station unexpectedly eats your ballot paper. It is surprising this was not also referenced by Minister Gormley.?

Still no sign of a by-election as the sky is not falling down (and the government do not look like winning any of them).

And Chicken Licken, Henny Penny and Goosey Loosey don’t want to go off and allow democracy.  Which one do you think Minister Gormley is ? 🙂

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