Saturday 3 December 2016

Wexford

Independent (1), Fine Gael (2), Fianna Fail (1), Sinn Fein (1).

Published 18/01/2016 | 11:49

There is almost one for everybody in the audience. All of the main parties will be hoping to take a seat away from Wexford – but it is Mick Wallace who much of the attention will focus on.

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The independent TD was the surprise package in 2011 when he topped the poll with more than 13,000 first-preference votes.

Although Wallace lives in Dublin and doesn’t hold constituency clinics like most other politicians he is still likely to sail home this time.

His outspoken nature and Dáil statements on Garda wrongdoing and NAMA have helped him maintain a national profile.

At one point Fine Gael had hoped to clinch three seats last time out but will happily settle with retaining two on this occasion.

Paul Kehoe has spent the past five years as the government chief whip and would have ambitions for a ministry if Fine Gael are returned to power.

Michael D’Arcy was hugely disappointed to lose out in 2011 to outgoing Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey who is retiring.

The party has added Julie Hogan to the ticket but challenging for a third seat is a bridge too far.

Fianna Fail’s campaign in Wexford has been dogged by in-fighting as a result headquarters decision to split the constituency using an East-West divide.

This meant Gorey-based councillor Malcolm Byrne got onto the ticket without a contest, while four others had to fight for the second place.

Cllr James Browne, who is the son of sitting TD John Browne, won out. Further controversy then struck when bank official Aoife Byrne was added to help their gender quota.

The upshot is that Fianna Fáil will probably take one seat with both Byrne and Browne vying for that honour.

The tide will have to be out completely for the Labour Party to lose Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

There is little doubt that he will lose a substantial fraction of the 11,000 first preference votes he received last time, but having got over the line in every election since 1987 he can expect to survive again.

Sinn Féin is hoping to secure its first ever seat in Wexford and may well do so in the form of Cllr Johnny Mythen. His base is close to that of Paul Kehoe and James Browne which is a disadvantage.

Renua Ireland had intended to run Shane Dunphy but he pulled out.

Another notable is independent Caroline Foxe who is representing the Irish Postmasters Union.

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