European Elections South: Rivalries building in a fractious battle for last two seats
John Downing details the South constituency:
Another monster constituency stretching from de facto suburbs of Dublin, near Bray, all the way down to Mizen Head; and from Tuskar Rock in Wexford all the way over to Ballyvaughan in Clare.
It has the six Munster counties and six of the 12 Leinster counties: Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois and Offaly.
BIG CHANGES COMING:
It will be the first vote in 25 years without the dominating presence of Brian Crowley. He romped home in five elections, always with record-setting votes and flying the Fianna Fáil colours.
Last time in 2014, despite a constituency almost as vast, all four successful MEPs came from the same 100km radius in Cork and Kerry.
This time surely somebody from the eastern side may win - and there is also the likelihood of an extra fifth seat when Brexit finally kicks in. The fifth-seat winner will have to wait and see what interim status and income the other elected colleagues bestow upon them.
This is a happy one for party HQ, because signs are they are likely to retain their two seats here. But it's a fractious one for the three contenders, the outgoing Seán Kelly and Deirdre Clune, and a newcomer to this contest, the junior minster responsible for forestry, Andrew Doyle of Wicklow.
There are predictable tensions about allocated canvass terrain. After years on the GAA Munster Council and his subsequent national presidency, Mr Kelly has potential cross-party votes in every county. But he must focus primarily on Kerry, Limerick and Clare.
Ms Clune has her native Cork but faces tough competition there from Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher. Mr Doyle has much of Leinster to himself, is a proven campaigner, and could seriously rival Mr Clune, as did his Wicklow colleague Simon Harris back in 2014.
Wexford-based councillor Malcolm Byrne led a determined campaign to get on the ticket first and has continued in the same vein.
Much will depend on his ability to get a large eastern counties vote. But Mr Kelleher, a TD since 1997 and former junior business minister, is a proven vote-getter and hotly tipped to succeed.
Liadh Ní Riada is seeking a second term. Her presidential candidature last autumn proved a bruising affair. But she has name recognition, reputation and will win.
Outside the big parties, three are in with a shot, including Wexford Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, Labour candidate and INTO leader Sheila Nunan, and Waterford-based Green Party candidate Senator Grace O'Sullivan. All depends on who gets ahead and what the transfer patterns are.
Ireland South: The candidates
There are 23 candidates for five seats: Allan Brennan (Independent); Malcolm Byrne (Fianna Fáil); Dolores Cahill (Independent); Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael); Andrew Doyle (Fine Gael); Paddy Fitzgerald (Independent); Breda Patricia Gardner (Independent); Theresa Heaney (Independent); Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil); Seán Kelly (Fine Gael, right); Peter Madden (Independent); Liam Minehan (Independent); Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin); Sheila Nunan (Labour Party); Diarmuid O'Flynn (Independent); Peter O'Loughlin (Identity Ireland); Grace O'Sullivan (Green Party); Walter Ryan-Purcell (Independent); Maurice Joseph Sexton (Independent); Jan Van De Ven (Direct Democracy Ireland); Adrienne Wallace (Solidarity/People Before Profit); Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change); Colleen Worthington (Independent).
PREDICTION: Seán Kelly (Fine Gael); Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil); Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin); Deirdre Clune or Andrew Doyle (both Fine Gael); Mick Wallace (Independents4Change) or Grace O'Sullivan (Green Party).