Wide-open race if by-election is held
BRIAN Hayes's expected election as an MEP in May's European elections will result in a by-election in Dublin South-West.
The Government will have to hold the by-election within six months of his election to the European Parliament, which effectively means a polling day in September or October.
The field is wide open in the four-seat constituency, which currently has two Labour Party TDs, Pat Rabbitte and Robert Dowds, Sinn Fein's Sean Crowe and Mr Hayes of Fine Gael.
The large Dublin suburb of Tallaght currently dominates Dublin South-West.
But the constituency will be redrawn and expanded to a five-seater at the next general election, taking in territory from Dublin South.
Aside from challenging for the seat under the old boundaries, the parties will also have one eye on blooding candidates for the next general election.
The local elections will shed a lot of light on the runners and riders, but here's the picture as of now:
Fine Gael: The party will be going out to defend its seat. Senator Cait Keane was Mr Hayes's running mate, but Councillor Colm Brophy may be viewed as a better long-term prospect. Mr Hayes will probably be back anyway for the general election.
Labour Party: After taking the largest percentage of the vote last time out, Labour should put up a challenge, but a voter backlash is anticipated. Councillor Mick Duff is the early favourite to be the candidate.
Fianna Fail: Former TD Charlie O'Connor is expected to be back in the local elections and Councillor Eamonn Walsh is there too. But the party is looking at Councillor John Lahart, coming in with the new territory, as the candidate in the newly-expanded constituency.
Sinn Fein: The party sees this by-election as winnable. Councillor Maire Devine currently has the edge on Councillor Cathal King.
Independents: After leaving the Labour Party, Councillor Dermot Looney would likely be in the contest and former Socialist Party councillor Mick Murphy is also a mainstay.