01/10/2020

Attorney General examining if postponement of the poll could be unconstitutional

Legal consultations are under way to see if the general election for the Tipperary elections can be held on Saturday as originally scheduled despite the death of one of the candidates on Monday.
The Office of the Attorney General has been examining if the postponement of the vote in Tipperary until the possible date of Saturday, February 29th could be deemed unconstitutional.
A decision to put back the holding of the election in Tipperary was announced on Monday following the sudden death of independent candidate, Marese Skehan.
The returning officer for the constituency, James Seymour, said the postponement was required under the Electoral Act 1992.
It stipulates that a returning officer must countermand a poll in the constituency where the death of a candidate has occurred and to arrange the holding of a fresh election.
However, Article 16. 3.2 of the Constitution, states that a general election must be held not later than 30 days after the dissolution of the Dáil.
A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government confirmed on Tuesday night that the Attorney General, Séamus Woulfe, SC had been examining various legal issues around the general election which arose following Ms Skehans death.
It is understood the Attorney General is concerned that the result of the general election in the other 38 constituencies could face a legal challenge if the Tipperary vote was not held on the same date.
RTÉ reported that Independent TD for Tipperary, Mattie McGrath sent a letter to Mr Woulfes office on Tuesday evening warning that a legal challenge would be initiated next week if the vote in his constituency was postponed.
An order would need to be signed by Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy to allow the election in Tipperary to proceed on Saturday.
A Government source said a decision was likely to be taken very soon on what should happen given the narrow timeframe before the weekend poll.
A death during the campaign last happened in the Carlow constituency in 1948.
Some 700 postal votes including those of Defence Forces personnel and diplomats have already been cast in Tipperary, as well as 900 votes including residents of nursing homes and hospital patients.
The constituency is seen as likely to have a bearing on government formation talks and the Dáil is expected to meet on February 20th because the proclamation President Michael D Higgins issued when the Dáil was dissolved obliges the House to meet.
The President would be required to sign a new proclamation on the advice of the Taoiseach in order to delay the sitting if the Tipperary vote was delayed. If the Dáil sits it is likely that TDs will be asked to elect a new taoiseach and ceann comhairle.
Ms Skehan, a home help co-ordinator with Thurles Community Social Services and the HSE, will be buried on Thursday in St Patricks cemetery after funeral services in Ryans Funeral Home in Thurles at 10am.