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Labour's Alan Kelly (left) and socialist Joe Higgins have both vacated their seats in the European Parliament after being elected to the Dáil. PA

Parties yet to decide on European Parliament replacements

The Socialist Party replacements will meet to decide who can succeed Joe Higgins’, while Alan Kelly’s seat is also free.

BOTH LABOUR and the Socialist Party have said they have yet to decide on who will succeed their respective MEPs who have been elected to the next Dáil following Friday’s general election.

Labour’s Alan Kelly, an MEP for the South (Munster) constituency, was elected to the Dáil in Tipperary North, while Dublin MEP Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won back his old Dáil seat in Dublin West.

Though candidates are required under Irish electoral law to supply a list of replacements that would replace them should they die, resign or be otherwise disqualified from keeping their seats, such lists are generally considered placeholders with parties deciding internally which of the replacements would be put forward.

Labour’s first named replacement, Arthur Spring, won his uncle Dick’s old seat in Kerry North in the election, thereby disqualifying himself from membership of the European Parliament – meaning the seat would fall to outgoing senator Phil Prendergast.

A Labour party spokesperson told, however, that Prendergast had yet to decide on her political future, having been defeated in the general election in Tipperary South.

The party was working on the presumption, however, that if Prendergast was not willing to take the seat that its next named replacement, Limerick city councillor Joe Leddin, would be available to take up Kelly’s seat.

The Socialist Party, meanwhile, has said it will hold meetings this week to decide who it will put forward as the replacement for Higgins’ seat.

“When we ran Joe initially we didn’t expect to win the seat,” a party spokesman said. “It was only as the campaign continued that the momentum began to grow.”

Although the list submitted by Higgins featured Cllr Clare Daly of Swords in the top ranking, her election in Dublin North means the seat would fall to the next listed candidate – Mulhuddart based councillor Ruth Coppinger.

It was not necessarily certain that Coppinger would be the one to take the seat, however, because the party’s four available replacements – which also include Mick Murphy, Denis Keane and Paul Murphy – would be meeting to see which of them had the resources and personal circumstances that would allow for the role.

“It’s a major disruption, personally, to commit yourself to being out of the country, three out of the four weeks of every month,” the spokesperson added, saying the party had 20 days in which to decide who would fill Higgins’ seat.

“A process of discussion between all four” had begun yesterday, and a proposal would be put to the party’s National Committee ahead of its meeting next week, where the final proposal would be sent for approval.

Higgins’ victory in 2009 was seen as a relatively major coup, as he defeat two outgoing MEPs – Fianna Fáil’s Eoin Ryan and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald – to be elected in a constituency being reduced from four seats to three.