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|ElectionsIreland.org > Latest News > Spring 2005 By Elections|
Updated Saturday 12 March 2005 (Originally posted Thursday 9 September 2004)
Two By Elections held on 11 March 2005
Two heavy-weight Irish politicians were appointed to top jobs with the European Union in 2004. Both were sitting TDs, and By Elections to fill the vacancies were held on 11 March 2005. These will be the first By Elections of the 29th Dáil and the 122nd and 123rd since 1918. (Click here for a list of all Dáil By Elections.)
Former Minister of Finance Charlie McCreevy was appointed as the European Commissioner for the Internal Market. His departure from the Government allowed Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to make significant changes in a cabinet reshuffle at the end of September 2004. McCreevy had been a County Kildare TD for Fianna Fáil since 1977. He topped the poll in 2002 in the three seater Kildare North constituency.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton was appointed as the European Union Ambassador to the United States. Bruton had represented the Meath constituency since 1969. He was twice Minister for Finance (1981/2 and 1986/7), and Fine Gael leader from 1990 to 2001.
Both constituencies will be affected by significant boundary changes at the next General Election. Kildare North will gain an extra seat, and the five seater Meath will be divided into two three seater constituencies of Meath East and Meath West. These changes are the result of the 2004 Constituency Commission report.
Although these By Elections to the 29th Dáil were fought using the existing boundaries, the selection of candidates may have been influenced by the forthcoming changes. This is especially true in Meath where the parties will want to balance their geographical representation as far as possible. Sitting TDs Noel Dempsey (Trim), Damien English (Navan) and Johnny Brady (Kells) represent the West of the county, with only Mary Wallace in the East (Ratoath). John Bruton's home town of Dunboyne will also be in the new Meath East constituency.
Other By Elections
The last Dáil By Election was held in Tipperary South in June 2001 when Tom Hayes held the seat for Fine Gael. There have been three previous By Elections in Kildare in 1931 and 1964 (both Fianna Fáil gains from Labour), and 1970, a Fine Gael hold. The only Meath By Election was a Fianna Fáil hold in 1959.
Fianna Fáil's By Election performance
The last time Fianna Fáil won a By Election was when Brian Lehihan held his late father's seat in Dublin West in April 1996. The last Fianna Fáil By Election gain was from Independent Fianna Fáil in Donegal North East also in April 1996. They defended Ray Burke's seat in Dublin North unsuccessfully in March 1998, losing out to Labour's Seán Ryan. You have to go back to December 1970 for a Fianna Fáil gain from Fine Gael - in Donegal Leitrim.
Fine Gael and recent By Elections
The last time Fine Gael won a By Election was Tipperary South in 2001. The last Fine Gael By Election gain was from the Progressive Democrats in Cork South Central in November 1994. Fine Gael haven't lost a seat in a By Election since Donegal Leitrim in 1970. The last Fine Gael gain from Fianna Fáil was in June 1994 in Mayo West.
On 10 June 1976 in the 20th Dáil, Brendan Halligan of Labour, then in Government with Fine Gael, gained a seat from Fianna Fáil in Dublin South West caused by the death of Noel Lemass. On 27 November 1973 during the same Dáil, Fine Gael's Brendan Toal gained the Monaghan seat vacated by Erskine Childers, who was the surprise winner of the 1973 Presidential Election. Neither of these TDs was subsequently re-elected to the Dáil.
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