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The new-look European constituencies. Nicky Ryan via
Election 2014

Parties begin to assess candidates after redrawing of European constituencies

The division of Ireland into three new constituencies presents some interesting challenges for the political parties and independents who hope to run.

THE REDRAWING OF Ireland’s European constituency map presents some interesting challenges for the main political parties.

While Dublin remains as three-seater, the abolition of the Ireland East constituency and the division of the provinces of Leinster (excluding Dublin), Connacht, Munster and parts of Ulster into two large, four-seat constituencies means parties will need candidates with strong name recognition.

As Adrian Kavanagh points out on his excellent analysis of the redraw European elections tend to be personality contests with current and former MEPs often going on to contest presidential elections.

For Fine Gael the Dublin constituency will provide an interesting search for a candidate as we have reported this morning. Elsewhere in the country the party expects former GAA president and current MEP Seán Kelly to run in the redrawn South constituency which now includes Clare.

Current North-West MEP Jim Higgins faces a battle to run in new Midlands-North-West (MNW) where the party leadership may prefer John O’Mahoney.

The fate of Mairead McGuinness, an MEP for the abolished East constituency, is also uncertain but she may also run in the new MNW constituency.

Fianna Fáil, Labour, Sinn Féin, and others

Of the other parties Fianna Fáil expects its current MEPs Liam Aylward (East), Brian Crowley (South) and Pat The Cope Gallagher (North-West) to run again. Former minister Mary Hanafin may be interested in running in ‘Dublin’ where the party needs to recover ground after near wipeout in the general election.

Labour expects its two current MEPs Phil Prendergast and Emer Costello to run again. Both face an uphill task given the junior coalition partner’s low poll ratings.

Sinn Féin has already selected Liadh Ní Riada to run in the new South constituency while Matt Carthy will contest the Midlands-North-West constituency. Its Dublin candidate is due to be picked this weekend.

Of the smaller parties, Paul Murphy will run to retain the Socialist Party seat in Dublin while Eamon Ryan is expected to run for the Greens in the capital.

Former Labour Party chairman and current independent TD Colm Keaveney is expected to declare his intention to run soon, presumably in the Midlands-North-West.

His fellow ex-Labour member Nessa Childers wants to run but is still to pick a constituency as her East stronghold is abolished.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin is also set to run again in the MNW. She topped the poll in Ireland North-West in 2009.

Read: Hayes says ‘wait and see’ on Euro election run but Norah Casey insists: ‘I’m out’

Read: Mortgage campaigner informally approached by three parties about running for Europe

Read: Colm Keaveney is considering running in next year’s European elections

Read: This Fine Gael TD is not ruling out a European Parliament bid next year

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