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Some candidates for June's elections said from the very start that they would not be sticking around for the full term if elected. Alamy Stock Photo
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Meet the 'replacements' who could take over seats in Europe if elected MEPs bow out

Sisters, sons, press officers and councillors. This election, it’s all very inside baseball.

MORE THAN 120 people have been listed as replacements to take over as MEP if any of the 74 candidates elected from Ireland on 7 June needs to leave their seat during their term. 

A total of 14 MEPs will be elected to represent Ireland in the EU Parliament next month and each of the candidates has supplied a list of people who will replace them if necessary. 

This is because there are no by-elections for the European Parliament. Instead, every candidate and political party must have a number of people ready and prepared to take over if the MEP decides they want to leave the job early.

It happened twice during the last term.

Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey took over from Mairead McGuinness after she was appointed Ireland’s EU commissioner and Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus took over from Matt Carthy after he won a Dáil seat in 2020.

The arrangement means the public’s representation remains the same, political parties do not lose a seat in Europe and it also gives a chance for some junior politicians to kick start their careers.

For example, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy won the 2014 Dublin South-West by-election after he took over from Joe Higgins as MEP in 2011, and has retained a seat in Dublin ever since.

Some candidates for June’s elections said from the very start that they would not be sticking around for the full term if elected. 

Upon the announcement of his candidacy for the European elections, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said he will also be contesting the next General Election here.

If elected to the European Parliament the Meath West TD will be replaced by his sister and Meath County councillor Emer Tóibín instead, if he is later successfully elected to the Dáil.

This trend is seen across the board. Independent candidates list family members, community leaders or like-minded friends to replace them, but political parties use the system as a chance to keep the seat for the party. 

For example, while independent Dublin candidate Dr Umar Al-Qadri has proposed other Asian community leaders as his replacement, if needed, Fianna Fáil’s Dublin list includes all of the party’s senators from Dublin.

In the instance that the seat becomes vacant, the person listed first on the list will be offered the seat first. If the replacement must leave at any point in their term, the person listed second is next up, and so on.

So, who’s on the lists this year?

Some previous lists have included some notable names such as a former garda whistleblower, candidates’ wives and Pat Shortt’s brother, Tom, who was a Fianna Fáil councillor at the time.

This year – it’s all very inside baseball.

In Dublin, Mick Wallace tops Clare Daly’s replacement list and Wallace’s press officer, Adrian Naughton, is named in second place.

Wallace has also placed Daly on the top of his list, Naughton as second and Daly’s press officer, Eadaoin O’Sullivan, as third.

Fine Gael and the Green Party have proposed a number of their elected officials, such as TDs and councillors, in each constituency, while other parties, like the Labour Party and People Before Profit, have listed some local representatives who have not yet attained elected office.

Businessman Peter Casey has listed retired Donegal councillor Nicholas Crossan, in addition to his own wife, Helen, and their son, Ryan.

Independent TD Michael McNamara has listed fellow-TD Mattie McGrath’s daughter, Máirín, who is a local Tipperary councillor. 

Other independents have listed friends and family members while minority parties have listed other party members and candidates.


This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

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