Sunday 22 April 2018


Fianna Fail (1), Fine Gael (1), Renua Ireland (1).

For the first time Offaly is a constituency all on its own, having previously been part of Laois-Offaly.

The reshaping of the constituency makes it a completely new playing field, although the two sitting TDs left – Barry Cowen (FF) and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy (FG) – will be hopeful of holding their seats.

Cowen, who is a brother of the former Taoiesach Brian, is almost certain to top the poll in what has traditionally been a strong county for Fianna Fáil but it would take a fantastic vote management system for him to bring in running mate Eddie Fitzpatrick.

The real intrigue is the final two seats which will be hotly contested by at least three candidates.

Offaly, along with the rest of the midlands, was badly hit by the recession and has been slow to feel any recovery.

That presents a problem for Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy who will be selling the Fine Gael message of ‘keep the recovery going’.

She faces a battle but if the party continues to rise in the national polls, the odds are still in her favour.

That leaves Renua Ireland’s John Leahy and Sinn Féin Carol Nolan to fight it out.

Leahy got an impressive 5,000 preferences when he ran as an independent in 2011 and narrowly missed out on making a breakthrough.

He was a surprise presence alongside Lucinda Creighton and Eddie Hobbs when they launched the Renua party – and many feel locally that the move may actually have damaged his electoral chances.

With strong GAA connections and a strong presence on the ground he will have a fighting chance.

Sinn Féin performed extremely well in the local elections, taking three council seats – but appear to have taken a calculated risk in nominating Carol Nolan.

Her base in the west of the county means that she will be trying to pull from the same voting pool as Cowen, Corcoran-Kennedy and Leahy.

Meanwhile the north of the county is devoid of a party candidate apart from Fianna Fail’s number two Fitzpatrick. Sinn Féin could have opted for Brendan Killeavy in Tullamore and targeted the area around Edenderry but this didn’t happen.

Independent Alliance candidate John Foley is an outside bet. The businessman is based in Edenderry and was previously a member of Fianna Fáil.

It is one of seven constituencies where the Labour Party are not running a candidate.

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