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Irish Parliamentary Party candidate wins West Cork by-election
West Cork where the by-election took place. Photo: © 2000 by Cartography Associates

Irish Parliamentary Party candidate wins West Cork by-election

Bantry, 17 November 1916 - Daniel O’Leary, the candidate backed by the Irish Parliamentary Party has won the West Cork by-election.

Mr. O’Leary is a member of the United Irish League, but was the candidate promoted by the Irish Parliamentary Party in what is the first electoral test since the Easter Rising.

In his victory speech, Mr. O'Leary thanked the electors and clergy of the constituency and stated that the result proved their 'allegiance' to the Irish Parliamentary Party.

He pledged to work for all of his constituents and said that he was determined to bring industry to the area.

Dr Conor Mulvagh on the leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party. 

Political complexity
The conduct and the result of the election underline the complexity of Irish politics and its many divisions.

The candidate who almost defeated Daniel O’Leary was Frank Healy. He was standing under the All-for-Ireland banner which is carried by William O’Brien a veteran MP from the Cork area.

Mr Healy attempted to present himself as being an ardent nationalist and he described the Irish Parliamentary Party as a ‘gang of traitors’. This has been interpreted as an effort to align himself with Sinn Féin supporters and the more radical republican elements that have grown in popularity since the Rising.

Tomás MacCurtain, the commandant of the Cork Corps of the Sinn Féin Volunteers wrote from Reading Jail in the days before the vote and repudiated all claims that Mr Healy was their representative. 

An advertisement has been published in local newspapers which reads:

‘By direction, and on behalf of, the Irish prisoners of war in England, we desire to inform the public generally, and the electors of West Cork in particular, that neither Mr. Frank Healy nor any of the other candidates for parliament in West Cork represent the views of either the interned prisoners or Sinn Féin.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.