THE DAUGHTER OF the late Shane McEntee is expected to be confirmed as Fine Gael’s candidate for the Meath East by-election at a selection convention in Kells this evening.
Helen McEntee, 27, is said to have agreed to run for the Dáil seat vacated when her father, who was Minister of State for Food, died last December and her candidacy will be confirmed this evening.
A party source confirmed to TheJournal.ie earlier this week that McEntee was “virtually certain” to be the candidate although it is not clear if any other Fine Gael members will enter the contest before close of nominations at 5.30pm this evening.
The convention will take place at 8pm tonight.
Helen McEntee’s decision to run will be a welcome boost for Fine Gael which faces competition from Fianna Fáil whose candidate, Senator Thomas Byrne, came fourth in the general election two years ago, just missing out on a Dáil seat.
Labour is expected to select its candidate shortly with nominations closing today.
Sinn Féin has nominated Darren O’Rourke who works for the party’s health spokesman, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, in Leinster House while the Workers’ Party will be represented by Seamus McDonagh.
Seán Ó Buachalla is the Green Party’s candidate for the by-election while Ben Gilroy is representing the new political party, Direct Democracy Ireland.
Ó Buachalla has criticised Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s decision to reduce the polling period for the vote on 27 March saying that reducing the period by two hours “will disenfranchise voters”.
“We have a large commuter-belt community in Meath East and cutting the hours of polling will infringe on their right to have their voice heard,” the Green candidate said.