Candidates gear up for election campaign

The battle to claim one of the five seats on offer in the Louth constituency looks set to commence shortly with rumours intensifying that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is set to call a snap election in early February.
Initially the Taoiseach had indicated that his preference would be to have an election this coming summer but speaking on RTE Radio on Sunday he stated that ‘circumstances had changed’ following the successfully negotiated Brexit deal late last year. A snap election next month now seems likely with February 7 and 14 looking like the most likely dates. Fine Gael will be hoping to claim an historic third successive election victory following success for Enda Kenny in 2011 and 2015.
Locally there are ten candidates confirmed so far for what is sure to be a keenly contested election. The confirmed runners so far are Deputy Fergus O’Dowd (FG), Cllr John McGahon (FG), Deputy Declan Breathnach (FF), Cllr James Byrne (FF), Deputy Imelda Munster (SF), Cllr RuairÍ Ó’Mhurchú (SF), Sen. Ged Nash (Lab), Mark Dearey (Greens), Eamonn Sweeney (Renua), Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick (IND).
Traditionally Louth has been a strong two-seater constituency for Fianna Fail but in recent elections that has changed with Fine Gael returning two candidates (Peter Fitzpatrick and Fergus O’Dowd) for the past two elections. Sinn Fein enjoyed their best result locally last time out with both Imelda Munster and Gerry Adams claiming seats. The fifth and final seat went to Fianna Fail’s Declan Breathnach as he celebrated his first general election success.
There is guaranteed to be at least one new face this time around following Gerry Adams’ announcement that he would not be contesting the forthcoming election. Sinn Fein are pinning their hopes on Louth County Councillor Ruairí Ó’Mhurchú to retain that seat as he begins his debut campaign alongside Drogheda’s Imelda Munster.
Peter Fitzpatrick will be looking to make it three election successes on the trot but this time he must do so as an independent following his decision to leave Fine Gael in 2018. Fine Gael’s John McGahon will be hoping to emulate his uncle Brendan who served as a TD locally from 1982 to 2002.
The most recent addition to the candidates list was that of the Green Party’s Mark Dearey who has decided to return to public life following his decision not to contest the local elections last May.

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