Election 2020: Verona Murphy to stand as Independent candidate

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy also confirms he is seeking to contest the general election

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, Irish Road Haulage Association president Verona Murphy and former European Parliament member Marian Harkin have announced that they will stand in the general election.

Mr Carthy, the only one of three Sinn Féin MEPs to retain a seat in May’s European elections, said his name would go before the party’s selection convention for the Cavan-Monaghan constituency on Thursday.

He and former councillor Pauline Tully are expected to be selected in the four-seat constituency, where Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is not seeking re-election.

“I am a proud Monaghan man – I can think of no greater honour than to be elected to the Dáil by the people of my home constituency,” Mr Carthy said.

"Monaghan is a great county, but we have been let down by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments."

Mr Carthy said those who voted for him to be their MEP last year would still be represented should he end up in the Dáil – a substitute chosen by the party would replace him – and that he had never made any secret of the fact that he might contest a future general election.

Controversial comments

Ms Murphy, who contested a November byelection for Fine Gael in Wexford, said she now intends to seek election in the constituency as an Independent candidate. She was recently dropped from the Fine Gael ticket amid controversy over comments she made about immigration.

She was criticised during the byelection campaign for suggesting that some asylum seekers may have to be “deprogrammed” and that children may be manipulated by Islamic State. She has repeatedly insisted that she is not racist and that she has “been continually misquoted by everyone”.

"I've raised the security issue and that stands. Sixteen migrants came in through Rosslare port and no one can say where they are, nobody can tell us who they are, and nobody can tell us why they were here," she told RTÉ radio on Tuesday.

Ms Murphy said she was keen to give a voice to rural Ireland in the Dáil as there was an increasing "Dublin-rural disconnect", and that Independent candidates had a lot to offer.

Regional development

Ms Harkin said she would seek to win a seat in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency, where she served as an Independent TD from 2002 to 2007. She was an MEP between 2004 and 2019 but did not contest last year's European elections.

She said she would work with “like-minded politicians to demand long-promised balanced regional development” should she win a Dáil seat.

“I believe there is a real opportunity for an Independent, either as an individual or part of an Independent grouping in the Dáil, to significantly influence the policy of the next government in relation to regional and rural issues,” she said.

Independent councillor and cardiac health campaigner Matt Shanahan is to seek election in Waterford. He was co-opted onto Waterford City and County Council last January and topped the poll in Waterford City East in May's local elections.

He said he hoped to attract support from people disappointed by the outgoing Government’s “delivery and performance for Waterford”.

“We must have respect for ourselves and I want mainstream people to switch their allegiance to someone like me,” he said.