Belfast Telegraph

Irish Government out of touch: SF chief

Clear rejection: Mary Lou McDonald
Clear rejection: Mary Lou McDonald

By Michael McHugh

Ireland's by-election results showed the government is "out of touch", Sinn Fein's leader claimed.

The largest party, Fine Gael, suffered a blow after failing to win any seats in four contests which could provide clues before the whole country goes to the polls next year.

Fine Gael's tight margin for passing laws with the support of a coalition of independents will shrink further following the results of Friday's vote in parts of Dublin and the south.

Contests were ordered to fill vacancies left by parliamentarians elected to the European Parliament in May.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: "The vote was a clear rejection of the current 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.

"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."

Fine Gael leader and Irish premier Leo Varadkar faces a general election for the Dail parliament next spring while grappling with the ongoing impact of Brexit on his country's economy.

He governs with the support of a number of independent members in the Dail.

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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