Decision expected on Meath East poll
There is growing expectation that the Government will move the writ for the Meath East byelection this week to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Fine Gael TD and minister of state Shane McEntee last December.
A number of sources on the Government side said yesterday they expected the decision to be made within the next week, along with the appointment of the new minister of state to succeed the late Mr McEntee.
Fianna Fáil will be the first party to show its hand when it holds its selection convention in Ashbourne on Thursday night. While nominations do not close until today, it is expected that Senator Thomas Byrne, a former TD for the constituency, will be the sole candidate.
A reliable Fine Gael source said their preferred candidate would be Helen McEntee, Mr McEntee’s daughter, who worked for her father in Leinster House. The decision, said the source, would be left up to the family.
In the event of Ms McEntee not being a candidate, other options would include its high-profile MEP for the East constituency, Mairéad McGuinness (who stood in Louth in 2007); the 2011 general election candidate in Meath West Catherine Yore; or the former Progressive Democrats councillor Sirena Campbell.
The Labour Party has not made any formal moves as yet to stage a convention. The party has several councillors in Meath and the party had a major breakthrough in this constituency two years ago when Dominic Hannigan took one of the three seats.
Sinn Féin has yet to select a candidate but it is understood that its candidate in 2011, Michael Gallagher, may decide not to run. That would pave the way for another Co Meath Sinn Féin activist Darren O’Rourke, who works for the party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.