9 July 2009 Edition
Senator Pearse Doherty lashes Tánaiste's arrogance as...Fianna Fáil fights off Dáil motion to hold Donegal by-election
A SINN FÉIN motion calling for the writ to be moved for the Donegal South-West by-election to take place was very narrowly defeated in the Dáil last week by 69 votes to 72 when the Government parties shamefully voted against restoring the voters’ democratic entitlement at the earliest opportunity.
Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty, who is based in Donegal South-West, described the Government’s refusal to support the motion as “a slap in the face for the people in my constituency’.
The Dáil vacancy arises out of the election of local TD Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher to the European Parliament, a Fianna Fáil electoral move which many openly suspect as being specifically designed to thwart the election effort of Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who is also from Donegal.
Moving the Dáil motion on the by-election writ on behalf of the Sinn Féin TDs, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said there is a special obligation on Fianna Fáil to hold the by-election at the earliest opportunity as it has been their European election strategy which created the vacancy.
“Fianna Fáil’s EU election strategy for the North West constituency fell asunder when their candidate and MEP Seán Ó Neachtain pulled the plug on them at the last minute. They were forced to draft in Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher as both a proven vote-getter and a Donegal representative with the view to thwarting the challenge of Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.”
Ó Caoláin said that if the Government refused to accept the motion it would be rightly concluded that the prospect of Sinn Féin electoral success in County Donegal was again a determining factor because Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty would be a front-runner in the subsequent by-election.
During the debate, Tánaiste and Donegal South-West TD Mary Coughlan unashamedly told the Dáil that the constituency is adequately represented by herself and Fine Gael’s Dinny McGinley and that while there were difficulties the constituency is benefiting under Fianna Fáil and the Greens’ current reign!
Pearse Doherty railed against the arrogance of the Donegal-based Tánaiste.
“This is rich coming not only from a TD for Donegal but from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who has overseen unemployment in Donegal doubling since her government came into office.
Minister Coughlan’s approach to today’s debate reflects her approach to unemployment and the development of Donegal and the North-West: cack-handed and reckless. The one reason why this government does not want to hold the by-election is because they know they cannot win it.
“By voting against the motion, Fianna Fáil and the Greens are effectively telling the people the Donegal South-West that they just don’t deserve the same representation as every other constituency in the state. This is a slap in the face for the people in my constituency.”
As the Government has refused to move the writ for the by-election it is now seems that the people of Donegal South West will be left without proper representation at least till spring of 2010 or beyond.
That is, of course, if the Government lasts that long.