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

But the man who John O’Mahony is rumoured to be in line to replace, incumbent North West MEP Jim Higgins, insists he’s very confident of winning the nomination.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with his fellow Mayo TD John O'Mahony (File photo)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with his fellow Mayo TD John O'Mahony (File photo)
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A FINE GAEL TD has played down speculation he might run in the European elections next year although he has not ruled out standing for the party if a vacancy arises.

John O’Mahony, one of four Fine Gael TDs in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s Mayo stronghold, was responding to a report in the Irish Independent today that he is being considered to replace the party’s North West MEP Jim Higgins in next year’s European elections.

“It’s like this: there is a sitting MEP in the north-west at the minute and I have always made it clear I am a close colleague [of Higgins]. I’m not in the business of trying to oust anyone. If it was a vacancy it would be a different thing,” O’Mahony told TheJournal.ie today.

However Higgins insisted to this website this evening that he is confident of retaining the seat for the party.

“I can tell you that from the start of the speculation I have had huge, huge support. I represent 11 counties and I work those counties to the bone, [the] grassroots support is huge.”

Higgins, who has held the North West EU seat since 2004, said he would be confident of winning the party’s nomination at any local convention in the coming months and even insisted: “I am racing certainty to get the nomination.”

Galway?

The rationale for selecting O’Mahony lies in the fact that Fine Gael is unlikely to retain its four TDs in a redrawn Mayo constituency at the next general election with the five-seater reduced to four. However his Dáil departure would mean a tricky by-election contest for the government.

Higgins suggested that O’Mahony, who won two All Ireland Senior Football titles with Galway, could potentially run for the Dáil in Galway West at the next election where he has name recognition: “His profile in Galway is very high.”

O’Mahony added that he was at the service of the party hierarchy and pointed out that he ran for the Dáil because Fine Gael asked him to.

“I didn’t look to run when I became a TD, the party asked me. The Fine Gael headquarters would have a say, Jim Higgins would have a say [on him running for the European seat].”

“I have served the party in many ways over the years and I would continue to do that. But the constituencies haven’t been drawn up yet… that’s where it’s at at the moment.”

Read: Irish MEP’s Twitter account tells Anglo to “f**k off”, he says he was hacked

Read: Van Turnhout in discussions with Fine Gael over filling Mitchell’s MEP seat

Read: Senators, rebel TD and Dublin Mayor in running for Mitchell’s MEP seat

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Hugh O'Connell

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