Hanafin's fate to shape FG's Dún Laoghaire plan
The fate of former minister Mary Hanafin at the upcoming Fianna Fáil selection convention in Dún Laoghaire is set to strongly influence whether Fine Gael decides to field a second candidate.
Fine Gael is wary of adopting a two-candidate strategy in the constituency amid fears that such a move could put the seat of sitting TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor at risk.
Ms O'Connor, whose core support is in Dún Laoghaire, narrowly survived the selection convention this week, defeating fellow councillor Barry Ward by just eight votes.
But party sources say they will consider adding a second candidate to the ticket - particularly if Fianna Fáil adopts a similar strategy which involves Ms Hanafin. "I think it's fair to say we will wait and see what happens with Fianna Fáil. If they run two candidates including Hanafin, it would make sense for us to adopt a similar strategy and run a second candidate in her area."
Fine Gael will have to decide whether to add Mr Ward to the ticket in the event of such a scenario, or instead opt for his fellow councillor Mairia Bailey.
Although Ms Bailey was comfortably defeated at this week's selection convention, party sources say they are keen to build her profile and may have to add her to the ticket to satisfy the gender quota rules.
The Dún Laoghaire constituency has been reduced to a three-seater due to the presence of Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party's whip in the Seanad Aideen Hayden has emerged as a potential replacement for sitting TD and former party leader Eamon Gilmore.
It comes as Ms Hayden's Seanad colleague Ivana Bacik said she wanted to instead contest Dublin Bay South.
Labour councillor Deirdre Kingston is also putting herself forward for selection.