ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has reduced the polling period by two hours for the Meath East by-election on 27 March as he today confirmed that he had signed the order for the vote.
Polling will take place between 8am and 9pm in three weeks’ time as opposed to the usual poll station opening hours of 7am to 10pm with the Minister citing the “continued interest of reducing costs”.
Hogan also confirmed today that nominations to stand in the by-election must be received by midday next Wednesday, 13 March with candidates able to withdraw their nominations up until noon the following day.
So far only Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have officially nominated their candidates for the by-election.
Senator Thomas Byrne is standing for Fianna Fáil with Sinn Féin nominating Darren O’Rourke who works for the party’s health spokesman, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, in Leinster House.
Fine Gael is “virtually certain” to nominate the daughter of Shane McEntee, whose death last December created the vacancy in the constituency, when it holds its nominating convention later this week, a party source told TheJournal.ie yesterday.
Labour is yet to nominate its candidate with the deadline for interested individuals falling tomorrow, a selection convention will then have to be held before the nomination deadline next Wednesday.
Speculation has centred on local councillor Eoin Holmes who could not be reached for comment this afternoon.
His Labour colleague on Meath County Council, Niamh McGowan – who has ruled herself out of the contest – said that she expected to process of selecting the party’s candidate to be concluded before the weekend.
Seamus McDonagh will run for the Workers’ Party while the Green Party will select Seán Ó Buachalla, who finished last in the 2011 general election.
The newly-formed political party, Direct Democracy Ireland, has selected one of its founders Ben Gilroy to run in the constituency.
Voters in Meath East, of which there are 64,100, are reminded to check the electoral register to ensure they have a vote later this month. The deadline to be eligible for the supplemental register is this Friday, 8 March.