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Irish election: Tipperary vote postponed after death of candidate

Marese Skehan Image copyright Other
Image caption Independent candidate Marese Skehan was found dead at her home in Thurles

The full result of the Republic of Ireland's general election will not be known until at least the middle of February after a candidate died.

Voters in the Tipperary constituency will not vote on Saturday with the rest of the country.

Independent candidate Marese Skehan was found dead at her home in Cabra Road in Thurles.

The vote in the five-seat constituency will be postponed by at least a week, broadcaster RTÉ said.

It also means that the full make up of the 33rd Dáil (Irish parliament) will now not be known next week.

RTÉ said it was understood her death was not being treated as suspicious.

Irish legislation dating back to 1922 states that, in the event of the death of a candidate after the final day for nominations, nominations have to reopen again.

The legislation states: "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".

James Seymour, returning officer for Tipperary, said he had issued "a countermanding notice to all party candidates," meaning that all "acts in respect of the forthcoming poll on the 8 February are now void".

He added a new date for polling would be set by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Seymour said this was out of respect to Ms Skehan's family and to give those who would like to take her place an opportunity.

"The current candidates that are on the ballot paper for Tipperary - their nominations stand," he said.

"We then open nominations for a very short period in approximately seven days' time to take in any further nominations.

"Then the ballot paper has to be accordingly amended."

Mr Seymour said that he will be issuing another update on the matter in the next day but it could be up to two weeks before the vote takes place in Tipperary.

'Touched the hearts of many'

Tipperary independent TD Michael Lowry, who knew Ms Skehan for years, said she was a "prominent and much-admired member of the community".

He added: "She cared passionately about the plight of the underprivileged and disadvantaged and was always a great source of support and assistance to those in need.

"Her warmth touched the hearts of many people and she will be sadly missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing her."

Ms Skehan had worked in Home Support Services with HSE Mid West Community Healthcare.

In a statement it said it was "deeply saddened" by her death and that she will be "sadly missed by her large circle of colleagues".

Chief officer Maria Bridgeman described her as a "dedicated colleague who ensured many people in north Tipperary could receive care in their own homes."

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