TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said Mayo community groups are as entitled to stand a candidate in the general election as anybody else.
Mr Kenny gave a low-key response to an expensive advertising campaign seeking an independent community candidate to stand under the '1st Independent Mayo' banner.
He rejected suggestions that his home constituency of Mayo had been neglected during his term as Taoiseach and said several projects were planned for the area.
There was puzzlement in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil about the advertisement which appeared in yesterday's Irish Independent and which is due in local papers this week. The ads seek applications for likely candidates with a panel to be interviewed eventually by people at various public meetings after the close of applications on March 20.
Sources in both parties, which have fought tough struggles in the county over the past 40 years, speculated that it may not affect them. "But I would not be complacent about them or any other rivals," one Fine Gael stalwart said.
One potential independent candidate, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, a poll-topping councillor in last May's local elections, said he had yet to decide on standing or not. "But if I were to decide to stand, I would leave matters to the voters and not be getting involved in selection processes such as those planned for public meetings," Mr Kilcoyne told the Irish Independent.
In the 2011 General Election, the outcome was clear soon after the boxes were opened and sorted.
Fine Gael, boosted by the potential Taoiseach Mr Kenny, took two-thirds of the vote and four out of the five seats.
But next time things will be different, with the constituency reduced to four seats and an anti-Government feeling in Mayo and across the country.
Eddie Farrell of '1st Independent Mayo' said he was pleased that their advertisement was effective.
"Hopefully we have set people thinking and we'll wait and see the response. This approach could well be repeated in areas across the country," he said.