Geoghegan seeks Fine Gael nod for Dublin Bay South byelection

Councillor reminds members he backed Varadkar, while O’Connell backed Coveney

Cllr James Geoghegan. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Cllr James Geoghegan. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

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Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan has told party members he intends to seek a nomination to run as a candidate in the forthcoming Dublin Bay South byelection.

Mr Geoghegan joins Labour senator Ivana Bacik in the race for the seat vacated by former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy, who resigned from the Dáil this week.

Speculation in recent days has focused on both Mr Geoghegan and former Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell, who lost her seat in last year’s general election.

In a letter to the party, Mr Geoghegan said the selection process for Fine Gael candidates would be undertaken by postal ballot during May 17th-31st.

“I will communicate with you personally in the coming days as the campaign continues for the month of May. I will be asking for your number one vote and setting out why I believe that in selecting me, it gives Fine Gael the best chance of winning this important byelection,” Mr Geoghegan wrote.

He reminded members in the letter that he supported Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership campaign. Ms O’Connell supported Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and sparked controversy when she described Mr Varadkar’s backers as “choirboys” who were “singing for their supper”.

Bloodline

In his letter Mr Geoghegan said his grandfather, former chief justice Thomas Finlay, served as a Fine Gael TD, and his great-grandfather, also Thomas Finlay, served as a Cumann na nGaedheal TD.

“I have played my part in multiple Fine Gael elections, including campaigning for Frances Fitzgerald and Eoghan Murphy. I also supported Leo Varadkar in his leadership campaign,” he said.

“In the local elections in 2019 in the electoral area of Pembroke, Fine Gael achieved 33.9 per cent first preference votes, and of that, I obtained 15.7 per cent of the first preference vote, the highest for any Fine Gael candidate in Dublin. Almost 20 per cent of the Green Party candidate’s second preferences went in favour of me,” he added.

The rest of the political parties are also gearing up to select their candidates for the byelection, which must be held within six months. In Fianna Fáil, there is speculation that local councillors Deirdre Conroy and Claire O’Connor could run.

Dublin lord mayor and Green Party chairwoman Hazel Chu is understood to be planning to seek selection for the byelection. Another name in the Green Party that could go before a selection convention is Cllr Claire Byrne.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the election would be “all about housing”. The party is considering who it will run, but there has been speculation that Senator Lynn Boylan might join the race.

The Social Democrats and People Before Profit are also considering who to field. Mr Murphy resigned his Dáil seat last Tuesday to pursue a career in international affairs.

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