THE Government may hold an early by-election in Dublin West to replace former Independent TD Patrick Nulty with the day of the local and European elections a possible date.
Senior figures in Fine Gael want an early run to catch out its rivals by holding the poll as soon as May 23 and the party is planning to run former athlete Senator Eamonn Coghlan (inset) as a candidate. The talk of an early election date comes despite concerns over 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 more safe option, when other by-elections are expected to be required.
Following an abject performance in the previous by-election, Fine Gael is planning to run Senator 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.
After being the runner-up in the last by-election, Fianna Fail will hope Cllr David McGuinness can go one better.
Socialist Party councillor Ruth Coppinger and Sinn Fein's Paul Donnelly will also be in the frame.
The Labour Party is fielding councillor Mary McCamley, who replaced Mr Nulty on Fingal County Council when he was elected and remained with the party following his departure to the Independent benches.
But party figures are also mentioning new councillor John Walsh and there was even mild speculation about Joan Burton's daughter, Aoife Carroll, who is politically active.