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Dublin: -2 °C Monday 18 November, 2019

Leo Varadkar tells Fine Gael politicians to get ready for November by-elections

The letter is seen as a rallying call as Fine Gael enters into election mode.

The Taoiseach said he would like to win one of the four seats up for grabs.
The Taoiseach said he would like to win one of the four seats up for grabs.
Image: Niall Carson

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has told Fine Gael TDs senators and MEPs to get ready for the four by-elections which will be held at the end of November. 

In a letter sent to party colleagues last night, Varadkar said that only one of the seats is guaranteed for Fine Gael. 

The date of the elections in Wexford, Dublin and Cork is mooted for 29 November, however none was specified in the letter. 

The Taoiseach communicated the November date to a number of opposition party leaders in a meeting on Monday evening. 

The reason four by-elections are being held is due to four sitting TDs being elected to the European Parliament in May’s elections. 

The four sitting TDs who were elected to the European Parliament were: Frances Fitzgerald (FG) – Dublin Mid-West Clare Daly (I4C) – Dublin Fingal Billy Kelleher (FF) – Cork North-Central Mick Wallace (I4C) – Wexford. 

In his letter to Fine Gael colleagues, Varadkar said it is “very rare” for parties in government to win by-elections, however he maintained they had good candidates. 

In a rallying call to his members, just a week after he said he wants a general election in May 2020, the Taoiseach said:

We are neck in neck [sic] with Fianna Fáil in the polls.

He added: “Opposition is far easier than government but it is not a fraction as rewarding. We have done so much and taken the country so far forward. We cannot allow it to slip backwards, or allow others to undo the progress we have made. And, we have much more to do.”

Spurring on TDs, Varadkar said whether Fine Gael is successful “is largely up to all of us”, he said.

In terms of party funding, he said Fine Gael needs to replace funds that were depleted in the local and European elections, and also said more money will have to be spent on the upcoming by-elections. 

To increase cash funds, he encouraged politicians to attend upcoming fundraising events, stating that they should attend at least one. 

The Taoiseach also told his party members that they have to show up for votes in this term, stating: 

“We lost a few votes in the last session that we should not have.” 

He said reversing parliamentary defeats is time-consuming and “is not always possible”. 

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