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Independent Tipperary candidates 'seeking legal advice' on postponing vote after other candidate's death

Candidate Marese Skehan was found dead in her home in Thurles earlier today.

Independent candidate Mattie McGrath.
Independent candidate Mattie McGrath.
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Feb 3rd 2020, 8:20 PM

INDEPENDENT TIPPERARY CANDIDATES are “seeking legal advice” to discern whether it is necessary to postpone the election in the county following the death of Marese Skehan. 

Skehan, another independent candidate in Tipperary, was found dead in her home in Thurles earlier today, but no details of her passing have been released at this time.

Legislation states that if a candidate in any constituency dies after the final day for nominations, “the returning officer shall forthwith notify the Minister and the Clerk of the Dáil of the death of the candidate and at the same time, if notice of the poll has been given, he shall countermand the poll”.

In such a scenario, a fresh election must be held in the constituency where the candidate has died.

Independent candidates Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and Joe Hannigan, say they don’t want the vote to be postponed.  

“We are seeking legal advice to see if it’s constitutionally necessary to postpone the election,” McGrath told TheJournal.ie. 

He said he would be “taking it out legally” and “having it examined to see if it’s legally necessary” to postpone the election in the Tipperary constituency as a result of the death. 

“We want clarity about it. We’re in uncharted territory with this,” said McGrath. 

Michael Lowry said he has already been in touch with legal experts on this issue and is expecting to hear back later tonight. 

“The minimum we are seeking is for the votes not to be counted in the rest of the country until the vote is held in Tipperary,” said Lowry. 

“The vote obviously wouldn’t be postponed in the whole country… but a way should be found to hold the election [in Tipperary] as quickly as possible. 

“It’s just an unprecedented situation… It’s totally unsatisfactory.” 

The three candidates said they believe holding the Tipperary vote after the rest of the country would put independent candidates at a “disadvantage” after the results of other constituency had been announced.  

The Department of Housing is expected to release a statement on the situation in Tipperary later this evening. 

The county’s returning officer confirmed to TheJournal.ie that he had notified Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy – whose department oversees the election – of his intention to postpone voting there due to Marese’s death.

All three independent candidates expressed their condolences over Marese’s passing and expressed sympathy with her family. 

With reporting by Stephen McDermott.  

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