The possibility of a recurrence of Foot and Mouth or Swine Flu is the latest lame excuse from the Government for not holding by-elections in Waterford and elsewhere.

A Fine Gael bill to compel sending the public to the polls within six months of a vacancy was defeated in the Dáil on Wednesday. Environment Minister John Gormley said the proposal didn’t take account of unforeseen events or emergencies.

The Green Party leader said he’s “giving consideration to establishing an electoral commission on a non-statutory basis to report on the electoral reform agenda set out in the renewed programme for government.”

His FG shadow spokesperson Phil Hogan had introduced the Electoral Representation (Amendment) Bill 2010, saying “for years there has been a lot of chat from the Greens but no action on electoral reform.” He was giving the minority government party “a chance to show that they are about more than just clinging to power.”

The coalition has been accused of “running scared” after repeatedly voting down calls for three by-elections to be held in Donegal South West, Dublin South and Waterford – saying it’s too busy trying to manage the economy to be preoccupied by canvassing.

See The Munster Express newspaper for full story.