Northern Ireland news

Dublin by-election result boost for Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald

SINN FÉIN received a boost ahead of this month’s Westminster polls when it claimed one of four seats up for grabs in the Republic’s by-elections.

Mark Ward topped the poll in the Dublin Mid-West constituency with 7,669 votes.

The party also polled well in Cork North-Central where Thomas Gould came in second place with 8,044 votes.

By-elections were held in four constituencies to fill vacancies left by parliamentarians elected to the European Parliament in May.

Fianna Fail won two seats in Cork and Wexford while the Green Party took a seat in Dublin Fingal.

The results mark a reversal in the fortunes for Sinn Féin, which had seen decline in recent elections.

It also comes ahead of this month’s Westminster showdown.

In Foyle sitting MP Elisha McCallion is facing a battle with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood while in north Belfast John Finucane is also locked in a fight with the DUPs Nigel Dodds.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said the Dublin result was “significant”.

"The vote was a clear rejection of the government's housing and health policies and a vote for Sinn Fein's proposals for the biggest public housing programme in decades, investment in public services and for planning for Irish unity,” she said.

"The result is significant for a number of reasons - it exposed a totally out of touch government which is failing to deliver for workers and families and a growing impatience among the people at a government wasting the economic growth of recent years."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who governs with the support of a number of independent Dail members, faces a general election next spring while grappling with the ongoing impact of Brexit on his country's economy.

While the economy is relatively buoyant, Mr Varadkar is facing fierce criticism from rivals Fianna Fail and left-wing opponents over issues like homelessness.

A vote of no confidence in his housing minister tabled by his political opponents is due to be held next week.

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