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Dáil's youngest TD could run in next year's European elections

Simon Harris is now among those who is considering running in the redrawn Ireland South in next year’s elections.

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris
Fine Gael TD Simon Harris
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

WICKLOW TD SIMON Harris is in the running to be sitting Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly’s running mate in the redrawn Ireland South constituency at next year’s European elections.

Harris is among a number of Fine Gael members who are currently considering seeking the party’s nomination in the 10-county South constituency, where sitting MEP Kelly will be hoping to retain his seat and the party hopes to add another.

Fine Gael is hoping to win two seats in the constituency as part of a five-seat strategy in next year’s elections.

Wicklow TD Harris’s potential candidacy would be based on his youth and potential to attract urban support. This would theoretically act as a perfect complement to Kelly, an experienced former GAA president, whose support base is further west in the constituency and in largely rural areas.

Harris, who turns 27 next month, is the youngest TD in the Dáil and was one of three Fine Gael candidates elected in Wicklow at the 2011 general election.

He is now among a number of party figures who are said to be considering running in the new enlarged constituency. Though he, like others, has not yet made a firm decision on whether to run.

Another Wicklow deputy, Agriculture Committee chairman Andrew Doyle, is also being mentioned as possible candidate in next year’s elections.

Other names that have been mentioned include Senator Deirdre Clune, a former TD for Cork South-Central, and outgoing Irish Farmers’ Association chairman John Bryan.

Another sitting TD, Wexford deputy and government chief whip Paul Kehoe, has also been mentioned but is not believed to be seriously interested in running for Europe.

Fine Gael wants to secure five of the 11 available seats in the European Parliament, two in four-seat South, two in four-seat Midlands North West (MNW) and one in three-seat Dublin.

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While Jim Higgins and Mairead McGuinness expect to run in MNW, the party faces a decision over who to field in Dublin, where Gay Mitchell’s departure creates a vacancy that could be filled by current junior minister Brian Hayes.

He has indicated his interest in the nomination but has made no firm declaration yet.

Selection conventions are expected to take place in January, but no dates have been confirmed as yet.

MORE: ‘I’m not confident, but I am hopeful’: New boundaries create new challenges for FG’s MEPs

Read: Will Brian Hayes run for Europe? ‘I haven’t made my mind up yet,’ he says

‘He’s very highly regarded’: MEPs back Taoiseach for EU job – but they don’t think he’ll take it

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Hugh O'Connell

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