THE Coalition is toying with an early by-election to replace Patrick Nulty in Dublin West on the same day as the local and European elections.
Senior Fine Gael figures want an early run to catch out their rivals, but are concerned about a lack of canvassers, as activists will be working on the other campaigns at the time.
The Labour Party is not expecting to be in contention for the seat which it won with Mr Nulty as its candidate, following the death of former finance minister Brian Lenihan.
A date in October – around the time of Budget 2014 – is a safer option, when a number of other by-elections are expected to be required.
Following an abject performance in the previous by-election, Fine Gael is planning to run Senator Eamonn Coghlan as the candidate. Party strategists believe the former World Champion runner would have an advantage if the by-election was held on the same day as the local elections, as the other candidates would also be running for the council.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail will hope councillor David McGuinness can go one better after being the runner up in the last by-election. Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger and Sinn Fein's Paul Donnelly will also be in the frame.
The Labour Party is looking to councillor Mary McCamley, who replaced Mr Nulty on Fingal County Council when he was elected.
But party figures are also mentioning new councillor John Walsh – and there was even mild speculation about Joan Burton's daughter Aoife Carroll.
The line-up could substantially change after the local elections, depending upon the performance of a number of candidates.
Under the law, the by-election will have to be held by the end of October as a TD must be replaced within six months of their departure from the seat.
Dublin West probably won't be the only constituency with a by-election this year.
Fine Gael's Brian Hayes is expected to become an MEP, creating a vacancy in Dublin South-West.
And there are other TDs running in the European elections – Fine Gael's Simon Harris in Wicklow and Independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan in Roscommon-South Leitrim.
There is also the prospect of a cabinet minister being appointed as Ireland's European Commissioner, which would require them to resign their seat.