Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

18.48 3 Feb 2020


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One of the candidates contesting for a seat in Tipperary in next weekend's General Election has passed away suddenly.

Marese Skehan, who was running as an Independent, is understood to have been found dead at her home in Thurles today.

Voting in Tipperary will not take place on Saturday as planned and is expected to be delayed by at least a week.

Under the Electoral Act of 1992, the vote has now been paused and the nominations for the five-seat constituency have been reopened.

This means the makeup of the new Dáil will not be known next week, and there will be knock-on consequences for the time it will take to form the next government.

The Returning Officer for Tipperary, James Seymour, said it will be up to the minister for planning Eoghan Murphy when the poll will be run but he hopes it will be before the end of the month.

He said: "I anticipate being able to reconvene the poll at some period within the month of February but it is subject to the direction by the Minister and the clerk of the Dáil.

"When I receive notice from them I'll be given a date and we can proceed with the poll.

"But we will be behind, unfortunately, we'll have to run this at some date after the 8th of February."

No other details about Ms Skehan's death have been released as yet but her death is not being treated as suspicious.

She was a first-time candidate who worked as a home help coordinator at Thurles Community Social Service for 36 years.

The issues she was campaigning for included cutting TDs' salaries by €10,000 and using the money for a central pension fund for those who are required to retire at 65.

She also wanted to create a greenway in Thurles and lift a HSE embargo on staff recruitment.

She had asked voters to give their number one because she would bring "common sense and compassion" as a TD.

A meeting of candidates at the local Anner Hotel tonight has also been cancelled.

Independent TD for Tipperary Michael Lowry paid tribute to Ms Skehan.

He said: "I have known Marese for many years. 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.

"She will be sadly missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing her. Deepest condolences to her family and many friends."

Labour TD Alan Kelly described Ms Skehan's death as "a huge shock to the people of Tipperary".

He said his party would not be campaigning in the coming days as a sign of respect.

Main image: Marese Skehan.

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