Independent alliance whittling down their long list
The Independent alliance of TDs and councillors say they will have a list of some 20 general election candidates completed within weeks.
One of the group, the long-time Independent Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath, has said they are continuing in discussions with 55 councillors who attended their meeting in Tullamore on March 28.
"From that group, we are confident we will get at least 15 credible candidates who have a real chance of taking a Dáil seat. Our preparations are advancing steadily but we do not want to rush things right now," Mr McGrath told the Irish Independent.
The group already includes five Independent TDs, who want to strengthen their Dáil presence and ensure they remain relevant as a grouping as the election campaign builds. Ultimately, the group has signalled that they could take a seat at Cabinet.
The other previously independent grouping, now the fledgling party Renua Ireland, is continuing preparations for contesting the general election.
Their first big electoral test comes on May 22 when their candidate, Councillor Patrick McKee, who was previously a Fianna Fáil member, stands in the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election.
Among the names being mentioned as independent group candidates are South Dublin county councillor Deirdre O'Donovan, who has a strong profile. Galway County Councillor Sean Canney, of Belclare near Tuam, is also a real prospect in the East Galway constituency.
In Clare, councillor Ann Norton is being talked about as a potential candidate. In Dublin Mid-West, the former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty, now a councillor, also attended last month's meeting, but it is not clear whether he is a prospective candidate.
The five TDs already in the grouping also include Shane Ross of Dublin South; Michael Fitzmaurice of Roscommon South Leitrim; Tom Fleming of Kerry South; and John Halligan of Waterford. The group also includes the Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell, who was elected to the Seanad in extraordinary circumstances last October.
Deputy McGrath said the group felt no need to rush the selection process. "We want prospective candidates to be happy in associating with us. Against that, we must evaluate their chances and assess what realistic chance they have of seriously contesting for a Dáil seat," he said.
Mr McGrath added that the 55 candidates who attended their meeting in Tullamore were of a very high standard.