THE Labour Party is going to hold off stoking up tensions in the Coalition in the Meath East by-election to avoid harming Fine Gael's chances of winning the seat.
But Labour isn't going to go as far as a formal vote transfer pact, recommending its supporters give a second preference vote to Fine Gael candidate Helen McEntee, the daughter of the late junior minister Shane McEntee.
Ms McEntee (pictured) is regarded as being in a straight battle with Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne. Labour is regarded as having no hope of victory and is playing down the prospects of its candidate, Councillor Eoin Holmes.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will be anxious to show the expected defeat is merely due to local considerations and traditional voting patterns in the constituency – rather than a reflection of the party's national standing.
"By-elections have a dynamic of their own. This one is Fine Gael's to lose," a senior party source said.
However, Labour is unlikely to recommend a formal transfer pact with Fine Gael, even though transfers are expected to decide the outcome.
"There have been no discussions about a transfer pact but it's not something that has found a lot of support within Labour in recent years," a party source said.