If a TD (member of Parliament) dies or resigns, his or her seat in Parliament will be filled by a bye-election unless it is only a short time until the next general election.
When a TD dies or resigns, the Dáil (one of the houses of Parliament in Ireland) passes a resolution directing that a writ be issued to the returning officer of the TD's constituency to hold an election to fill the vacancy. Until 2011 there was no time limit for the passing of the resolution by the Dáil. The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2011 provides that if the Dáil does not move to have the writ issued within 6 months the Ceann Comhairle must direct the Clerk of the Dáil to issue the writ.
Tradition dictates that when a TD dies, the former member's own party will move the writ but not until at least a month has passed.
The procedure for the nomination of candidates, voting and the conduct of the count in Dáil bye-elections is the same as for a general election. The difference is that only one seat is being filled in a bye-election.
A person who is currently a member of Dáil Eireann cannot be a candidate in a Dáil bye-election.
The law forbids the erection of posters and signs on poles or other structures in public places unless you have the written permission of the owner of the pole or other structure in advance of putting up the posters and signs. Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended by Section 9 of the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2009, election posters and signs cannot be erected until an order has been made appointing the polling date for the bye-election or for 30 days prior to the date of the poll (whichever is the shorter period). Local authorities have the power to remove these items should they disintegrate or cause a litter nuisance.
Following a bye-election, a party or candidate must remove posters within a 7-day period. After that date, an on-the-spot fine of €150 is issued by your local authority in respect of each remaining poster. Your local authority will remove the poster as the fine is issued. If a party or candidate has been issued with a fine and refuses to pay, they can be prosecuted in the District Court by your local authority to enforce payment. The maximum penalty in the District Court following conviction for non-payment of the fine is €3,000.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.