FORMER Cabinet Minister Sean Barrett made a dramatic comeback to his political career last night.
Mr Barrett was selected with highly regarded local councillor Eugene Regan to run for Fine Gael in Dun Laoghaire in next year's general election.
Fine Gael conspired to lose both its seats in the constituency in the 2002 general election - the worst and most embarrassing result of the party's meltdown.
Fine Gael strategists know there is one seat ready for the taking but are targeting a second. The strong ticket now in place puts the party on track to capitalise on its boost in support in recent opinion polls.
Mr Barrett's return to electoral politics and Mr Regan's impressive campaigning saw them come out on top at the convention in Dalkey, where 326 local party members voted.
Mr Barrett came out of political retirement to contest the party's candidate selection convention in his old constituency.
The 61-year-old did not run in the last election, after serving as a TD for 21 years in the party's former heartland. Mr Regan, a barrister, has raised his profile substantially on the back of an endorsement from former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.
Mr Barrett told the Irish Independent a fortnight ago that he would only run if he was nominated by the local party organisation.
He was nominated to contest the convention last night by his branch in Cabinteely but was not guaranteed to win a nomination.
The boost in support for Fine Gael in recent opinion polls makes the party confident of a double in the notoriously volatile constituency.