THE DAUGHTER of the late junior minister Shane McEntee is now virtually certain to contest the by-election to fill the vacant Dáil seat in Meath East.
Helen McEntee, 27, is understood to have agreed to run for the Dáil seat which became vacant after her father’s death in December.
Local councillors who may have been seen as potential Fine Gael candidates are happy to stand aside and allow McEntee run to keep the seat first won by her father in a by-election in 2005.
A Fine Gael source said McEntee was now “virtually certain” to be the party candidate.
Records show that the internet domain helenmcentee.ie completed registration yesterday, and was registered by Helen McEntee herself under the description of a “politician’s name”.
A date for the by-election has not yet been set. Under laws enacted since the present government took office, the writ to hold a by-election must be moved within six months of a seat becoming vacant – meaning a writ must be moved by the end of June, with a ballot held by mid-July at the latest.
A decision on that matter could be made at this morning’s cabinet meeting, and may be announced in the Dáil later this afternoon.
However, this could be held up by the fact that Labour has yet to nominate a candidate for the by-election, and because Helen McEntee has not yet publicly disclosed her intention to run.
Fianna Fáil has nominated former Meath East TD and current senator Thomas Byrne, who came fourth in the three-seater in the 2011 general election, to contest the seat. Sinn Féin has nominated Darren O’Rourke, an advisor to the party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Other confirmed candidates include Seamus McDonagh of the Worker’s Party, who will run on an ticket opposing water and property charges.
The by-election will be the first test of party support at the ballot box since October 2011, when Labour’s Patrick Nulty was elected to fill the late Brian Lenihan’s seat in Dublin West. That election was held alongside the President election won by another Labour candidate, Michael D Higgins.