O’Connell, Chu and Bacik among possible candidates for Dublin byelection

All main parties gearing up to field candidates for seat vacated by Eoghan Murphy

Kate O’Connell is a potentially high-profile candidate in the constituency. Photograph: Eric Luke

Kate O’Connell is a potentially high-profile candidate in the constituency. Photograph: Eric Luke

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Political parties are gearing up to select their candidates for the forthcoming byelection, triggered by the resignation of Fine Gael Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy.

The former minister for housing announced on Tuesday morning that he was resigning his Dáil seat to pursue a career in international affairs.

In a letter to Fine Gael members, Mr Murphy said his responsibilities when he was minister for housing were “the most challenging that I faced in my time in politics”.

“We overcame obstacles in some areas and were defeated in others. While I wish we could have achieved more during my tenure, I believe we made crucial reforms and improvements to how housing works in Ireland,” he wrote.

Mr Murphy said he had not yet applied for any jobs but that he was keen to return to the area of nuclear disarmament, about which he was passionate.

All of the main political parties have said they will be putting forward candidates. The byelection must be held within six months.

Once a writ has been issued, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will make an order appointing the day on which the poll will be taken.

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said the party’s membership would decide who their candidate should be in the coming weeks.

While former TD Kate O’Connell is a potentially high-profile candidate in the constituency, Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan is also considering putting his name forward.

A local process

Mr Varadkar said that, under party rules, the candidate would be selected by the local party members.

“Any party member in that constituency of more than two years’ standing has a right to vote. It will be one member, one vote, and those people – those hard-working members and activists in Fine Gael in Dublin Bay South – know the potential candidates better than anyone else. I know they will pick the best candidate and the one that is most likely to win, and I will support that candidate 100 per cent with all of my efforts,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Geoghegan said the Dublin Bay South constituency organisation had more than 350 members. “I have worked hard to gain the local members’ confidence and support both before and after the local elections in 2019, and more recently working as a team during the general election,” he said. “My wife and I will make a final decision on whether to formally seek the nomination.”

Taoiseach Michéal Martin said Mr Murphy was a loss to politics. He said Fianna Fáil would be contesting the election.

“I think we need as many talented people as we can possibly get in politics. It is a much more challenging field these days, and I know he has fresher pastures given his abilities and others are looking for him.”

FF possibilities

Within Fianna Fáil, there is speculation that local councillors Deirdre Conroy and Claire O’Connor could run.

The Lord Mayor and Green Party chairwoman Hazel Chu is planning to seek selection for the forthcoming byelection, The Irish Times understands. Ms Chu is understood to have consulted with the party leadership and will put her name forward.

A number of other names could also go before a selection convention including party councillor Claire Byrne.

Labour’s Ivana Bacik has already announced her intention to run.

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 have said they too are considering who to field.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said her party was “looking forward to contesting” the election.

“I think it’s a very good opportunity for people to express their views of the performance of the Government, and to be a referendum on performance across a number of areas, not only in relation to the pandemic, of course, and confusion around vaccine programmes and the housing issue.”

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