Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Electoral Representation (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage
John Gormley (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Dublin South East, Green Party)
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.