Keeping candidates in the family proves a winning formula for canny Fine Gael
This battered and buffeted Government has managed one astonishing but little-noticed feat.
The two coalition parties have between them won three by-elections since entering office on March 9, 2011. For the greater part of 30 years prior to that, victories in Dail by-election were the automatic property of the opposition parties.
You have to go back to May 1982 when Galway East TD, Noel Treacy, won a by-election for Fianna Fail and Charlie Haughey's shortlived minority administration, to find another government party win. But in October 2011, Labour managed a win in Dublin West through Patrick Nulty, the man who looked in briefly to a few parliamentary party meetings before he joined the Independent ranks.