Ireland’s general election result delayed

Ireland’s final General Election results will be delayed after the death of a candidate.

Voters in the Republic are due to go to the polls at the weekend as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael fends off a strong challenge from opposition party Fianna Fail.

The death in Tipperary in the south west of the country is not being treated as suspicious.

Marese Skehan, aged in her sixties, was an independent and was not among the front runners for seats. One of her rivals said the home help coordinator cared passionately about the plight of the under-privileged.

Her sudden death at home means five seats in the next Dail parliament will not be filled this weekend. Instead, there will be a vote on a later date as nominations have to be reopened.

Leaving one constituency’s places unfilled could complicate efforts to form a coalition government after what is expected to be a fragmented election result.

Tipperary returning officer James Seymour said: “I hereby give notice that I am countermanding, with immediate effect, the poll scheduled to take place in the constituency of Tipperary on Saturday 8th February 2020, following the death of the nominated candidate, Marese Skehan of Cabra Road, Thurles, County Tipperary.

“I hereby give notice that all acts done in connection with the election (other than the nomination of the surviving candidates) are void and that a fresh election will be held (date to be confirmed by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government).”

Under elections legislation dating from 1992, there will have to be a vote at a later date in the constituency as nominations will have to be reopened.

The General Election campaign has entered its final week, with all parties and independent candidates preparing to make their final pitches to voters.

A statement from An Garda Siochana said: “Gardai are investigating an incident of sudden death in the Thurles area, Co Tipperary, which occurred today.

“A woman aged in her 60s was found dead in her home.”

It is understood the force is not treating the incident as suspicious.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has been invited by the RTE broadcaster to take part in Tuesday night’s Prime Time leaders’ debate.

The original line-up for the debate was to be confined to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Mr Varadkar.

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