INDEPENDENT candidate Sean Canney is hoping to benefit from the exodus of sitting TDs in Galway East.
The traditionally conservative four-seater has been thrown wide open by the retirement of Fianna Fail's Noel Treacy and Fine Gael stalwarts Paul Connaughton and Ulick Burke.
Mr Canney is portraying himself as an Independent who could be a deal-maker if Fine Gael comes close to getting into Government on its own.
He says a priority project for the area is the €500m motorway to replace the road made famous by the Sawdoctors.
"The M17 from Gort to Tuam is ready to go. All that's required is to get the contract signed," the candidate adds.
A lecturer in construction studies in GMIT, he has seen the decimation of the building industry and the pressure on jobs in Ballinasloe, Loughrea and Tuam.
His canvassing efforts have been boosted by the arrival of a US relative, Chicago-based trade unionist Tom Burke, whose parents emigrated in the 1920s. Mr Canney has a close connection to former Independent TD Paddy McHugh -- his director of elections and brother-in-law. He is targeting the 18,000 votes in the Tuam area, which helped Mr McHugh get elected in 2002.
Labour's Colm Keaveney is hoping to secure a rare seat for Labour in the west. The SIPTU organiser is making his third attempt -- and has a running mate in Athenry-based barrister Lorraine Higgins.
Fine Gael has adopted its old "railway strategy" of running two candidates on either side of the railway line that cuts the constituency in two.
To the north are Cllr Tom McHugh and Paul Connaughton Jnr, while to the south are former PD leader Senator Ciaran Cannon and Cllr Jimmy McClearn.
Mr Connaughton (29) is considered a near certainty to hold on to his father's seat and Fine Gael is expected to get at least one more south of the railway line.
Fianna Fail's Michael Kitt is expected to get re-elected but its other candidate, Loughrea-based accountant Michael F Dolan, will not retain Noel Treacy's seat.
Sinn Fein's Cllr Dermot Connolly is well regarded for his work in the Ballinasloe area.
But it will be between Fine Gael, Labour and Sean Canney for the last seat.
Michael Kitt TD
Michael F Dolan
Cllr Paul Connaughton Jnr
Senator Ciaran Cannon
Cllr Tom McHugh
Cllr Jimmy MccClearn
Cllr Colm Keaveney
Cllr Dermot Connolly
Cllr Sean Canney
Cllr Tim Broderick
LAST TIME OUT
- Fine Gael’s Ulick Burke won back his seat, restoring the traditional ‘two FF-two FG’ outcome in the constituency
- Tuam-based Independent Paddy McHugh lost out after just one term in the Dail
- Fianna Fail’s Michael Kitt won back his seat, but sitting party TD Joe Callanan lost out