Around 70 candidates have been nominated to run for election across the five constituencies in Cork as deadline day has passed.
It wasn’t without hitch though, as Martin Condon, who ran in the Cork North Central by-election on a platform of cannabis legalisation, missed the deadline to submit his nomination papers to run this time around.
Pension issues have dominated the agenda for the main political parties for a number of days, while hundreds of young people have also registered to vote, as that deadline also passed today.
Almost 700 registered in UCC alone this week, on top of the 200 registered in the city centre by Cork Votes last weekend. Ciara Kealy, UCCSU Deputy President and Campaigns Officer, said it shows that students want a chance to be heard and to be represented.
“I hope this sends a clear message to all the candidates running that the student voice is here and it is clear we all want change and we all want to finally be listened to and respected,” she said.
It remains to be seen where the votes of the hundreds of students will go, but if the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll is anything to go by, Sinn Féin are the party set to benefit.
It showed Sinn Féin on 27, Fine Gael on 16, both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party on 15, and the Labour Party on 5.
Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson, and Cork South Central TD, Michael McGrath was today quizzed by reporters as he launched the party's tax measures.
His party had taken somewhat of a back seat on their position on the issue of the rising pension age until now, but he confirmed that Fianna Fáil would be backing a review of the state pension provision.
He also said that decisions that would shape policy for decades couldn’t be decided in the heat of a campaign.
“It's not about kicking it down the road, it's about getting it right and it's about being fair to people,” he said.
“Anyone who does the back of an envelope calculation and says they want to change pension policy for the next 20 or 30 years in Ireland is not being fair to the Irish people and is not being honest with them.
“We are making it very clear that there will be a comprehensive review.”
Fine Gael has backtracked somewhat on the stance Leo Varadkar originally took on the issue when he said the pension age should rise along with the rise in life expectancy, as they announced measures that would see a new Transition Pension introduced for those who retire at 66. It will be set at a rate equivalent to the Contributory State Pension, effectively meaning it is a pension in all but name.
Cork North Central TD Mick Barry has said that Fine Gael only made the decision under pressure from voters, while he’s also called for the pension age to be reduced to 65.
The issue was visited in tonight’s first televised debate between the leaders of the “main” political parties, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader and Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin went head to head on the main issues concerning voters.
The debate, moderated by broadcaster Pat Kenny, has been labelled unfair by some for their exclusion of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, especially given the party’s performance in recent opinion polls.
Micheál Martin, however, said earlier in the week that the only two parties that could lead a Government were both taking part, and said that Sinn Féin’s inclusion shouldn’t be decided by opinion polls.
Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire strongly criticized Martin’s comments, which he called “petty and undemocratic.”
“Head-to-head debates between two party leaders who have been in partnership for the last four years are not real debates,” he said.