Don't expect a shock from the country's most predictable consituency
Published 18/02/2016 | 02:30
Half of all the candidates in Laois can look forward to a seat in the Dáil after the election - but don't except fireworks during the campaign.
This new constituency is, without question, the most straightforward and predictable in the country.
The three incumbent TDs all expect to be returned, albeit the outsiders (a senator and two unknowns) are all putting in a strong campaign.
Sinéad Moore of the Green Party told the Irish Independent that she hopes her canvassing will secure her a solid base.
"I'm have a fantastic time. I'm getting invited in for tea all the time," she said.
And while it would be one of the political shocks of the election for her to be heading to Leinster House, Ms Moore hopes her run will raise awareness around some green issues.
Despite previous approaches from Fianna Fáil and the Socialist Party, she only entered politics two years ago having decided the Greens were best for her.
"There are so many people who are environmentally aware.
" I want to give them a voice," Ms Moore said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan (FG) will be battling with Fianna Fáil's Sean Fleming to top the poll.
Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley should take the third seat.
His only real left of field challenge will come from Labour Party senator John Whelan. The last time Labour held a seat in Laois was 1969 but Whelan put in an impressive showing in Laois-Offaly in 2011 and has maintained his profile since.
Among the big issues on the doorsteps will be the operation of Portlaoise Hospital and rural crime.
A small part of Kildare South has been annexed into Laois for population purposes meaning there are new votes up for grabs.
Whelan grew up and has strong connections in the Monasterevin area so the redrawing of the constituency is likely to give him a bit of a boost.
Labour also defied the odds during its local election meltdown when its candidate, Noel Tuohy, took a seat on the council.
Flanagan's running mate Thomasina Connell might be one to watch for the future but her presence on the ticket is primarily to help fulfil Fine Gael's gender quota.
Prediction: FG, FF, SF