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Childers going into battle with ex-Labour ally


 Nessa Childers. Picture: Tom Burke

Nessa Childers. Picture: Tom Burke

Nessa Childers. Picture: Tom Burke

OUTSPOKEN MEP Nessa Childers will go head-to-head with her former Labour Party colleague Emer Costello in the European elections.

Ms Childers, who dramatically quit the party in April, has decided to contest the Dublin constituency in the upcoming poll, which will be a blow for Labour.

The former healthcare worker was Labour's only 'elected' MEP when she quit the party.

Now in a further setback for the coalition party, Ms Childers has switched from the Ireland East constituency to run in Dublin as an Independent.

However, Ms Costello believes she is in a better position to take the seat, and said that Independents "lack a real function" in the European Parliament.

"I am very much focused on the work I do and I believe I am strongly in contention to take a seat," Ms Costello told the Herald.

"Nessa is no longer a Labour MEP and she does not belong to our group in the European parliament.

"I think Independents lack a real function in the European Parliament.

"They don't belong to a political group so they don't have much influence. But Nessa can run where she pleases, that's up to her."

Ms Childers has told supporters that she now feels better placed to win one of the three seats in the capital as a result of a series of boundary changes earlier this year.

Her Ireland East constituency has been significantly expanded and now stretches from Wicklow to Kerry. She is due to announce that she is to run in Dublin on Wednesday

But it is understood that senior Labour figures are extremely concerned about the prospect of losing both of their sitting MEPs. Ireland South MEP Phil Prendergast is facing a challenge from within her own party during a selection convention in the coming weeks.

Labour's finance spokesperson in the Seanad, John Gilroy, has said he will challenge Ms Prendergast for her place on the ticket.

Mr Gilroy's challenge has created a major headache for Labour. If he succeeds during the selection convention, the party will have to decide whether to add Ms Prendergast to the ticket as a second candidate.

Otherwise, it is likely that the former midwife will run as an Independent during May's elections.