The candidates for the Meath East by-election are, Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee, Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne, Cllr Eoin Holmes of Labour, Sinn Féin’s Darren O Rourke, Sean O’Buachalla of the Greens, Seamus McDonagh of the Workers’ Party and Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy Ireland.
Independents contesting the election are Charlie Keddy and Jim Tallon from Wicklow. With Gearoid O’Brien and Mick Martin from the Meath area.
Of the eleven candidates running only two have held or were elected to public office. Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne and Cllr Eoin Holmes of Labour. Two of the four Independent candidates running have run in number of elections. The Workers Party Seamus McDonagh and Green’s Sean O Buachalla have also run in previous elections.
Jimmy Tallon has run in every almost every general election since 1981, in a number of different constituencies and by-elections.
Charlie Keddy another serial candidate.
Seamus McDonagh, Workers Party.
Sean O Buachalla of the Greens.
Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne.
Eoin Holmes, Labour.
Source Elections Ireland
There are five left leaning or far left parties running in this by-election, Ensuring any left leaning votes are going to be split amongst five candidates, with Labour and Sinn Féin taking the bulk, resulting in no seat being won by any left leaning candidate.
The Independents will not have any bearing on outcome of election.The Green Party are running a candidate someone clearly not electable. Direct Democracy are in for a rude awakening when amateur legal eagle Ben Gilroy will be defeated. Despite his antics being popular on social media they won’t transfer to votes at the ballot box.
Sinn Féin are running a bright young thing in Darren O’Rourke. Darren is a policy advisor to his party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. The Sinn Féin machine in Meath East is relatively weak compared to the other established parties, this is despite having Sinn Féin TDs in most of the neighbouring constituencies. How Sinn Féin will do in this by-election will be interesting to see compared to their current ratings in the political polls. This election may have come to soon for Darren but it wont hinder his chances of taking a seat in local elections next year. Sinn Fein are usually transfer toxic at the ballot box, if they can break that cycle of toxicity in this by-election then they have the ability to be king makers at the next general election.
The Labour party’s outlandish claims that they were not informed of the writ being moved for this by-election, was amusing at best and at worst ostrich like politics. Every political nag from Dublin to Dingle knew the writ was being moved and many a political print journalists had speculated on a date. Labour are languishing badly in the polls, worse than Fianna Fáil were in the pre-2011 general election. Eoin Holmes 2000 first preference votes in Slane at the last local elections is nothing to be sniffed at. That and the backing of the popular Dominic Hannigan would be formidable in normal circumstances. But these are no normal times and even the weak Labour leadership know that there is not enough room for two Labour candidates at the next the next general election. Labour’s transfers will probably be kingmaker. Labour coming in at third place will be a good result for them.
The only two candidates that can win this by-election are Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne and Shane McEntee’s daughter Helen, of Fine Gael.
Thomas Byrne has endured some criticism of late after a video of himself and Bertie were removed from YouTube. Fianna Fáil have also not quite shaken off their legacy for creating the mess we are in. Fianna Fail’s claims that Byrne is not damaged by his role in the previous administration are falling on deaf ears. He was a loyal Brian Lenihan supporter, going so far as seconding Lenihan in his bid to become leader of Fianna Fail, and was a strong defender of Lenihan’s failed financial policies. If transfers are to decide the outcome, Sinn Fein transfers may well win it for the Louth man.
Helen McEntee’s brave decision to run so soon after her father’s tragic passing shows a resolute and mental toughness. The perception of nepotism will be hard to shake though in the media. Her views on abortion would normally be an issue, but her main rival Byrne shares similar views. The economy and local issues will dominate this by-election. Shane McEntee’s hugely impressive work ethic and strong base in which Helen was central in helping to build has given her a strong platform on which to launch her political career.
Fine Gael’s combined vote at the last General election was over 17,000 votes while Fianna Fail’s two candidates garnered just over 8,000 votes.
Whom ever wins this election though will probably do so by only a few hundred votes. Disillusionment is rife on the ground with the ordinary voter, don’t be surprised if there is a low turnout. A low turnout may just cause a shock win. Meath East traditionally votes conservatively and anything other than a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael win will be a major shock to political watchers.
Carl Sandburg said, A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.
Whom ever wins this by-election will need more than rabbits at the next general election.