Seán Barrett may resign as Ceann Comhairle before election

Minister for Communications Alex White to stand in Dublin Rathdown

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett said he may resign from his position and return to the Fine Gael backbenches before the next general election.

Mr Barrett said he would not like to retire from politics as Ceann Comhairle and may decide against taking the free run available to holders of his office.

If he were to resign as Ceann Comhairle and subsequently retire as a TD, Fine Gael might also have to find a replacement candidate in Dún Laoghaire.

South Dublin

Dublin Rathdown has been renamed from

Dublin South

, and falls from a five-seater to a three-seater. Dún Laoghaire remains a four-seater, but would effectively be a three-seater if Mr Barrett availed of his free run. Mr Barrett would also have to be replaced as Ceann Comhairle by another Fine Gael TD.

Mr Barrett ruled out taking on a second term as Ceann Comhairle but said he had yet to decide if he would retire from politics at the next election. “The only reason I’d step down is that I felt I’d like to spend some time back on the backbenches to get involved more and that’s if I decide I wasn’t going to stand or avail of the free run,” he said. “That’s a decision I have to take. I wouldn’t like to leave here without having the experience of saying what I thought about certain things. And I can do that on the backbenches.”

Next election

The current TDs for Dún Laoghaire are Mr Barrett, People Before Profit’s

Richard Boyd Barrett

, Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Labour’s

Eamon Gilmore

. All are understood to be running in the next election in spring 2016 and, with

Labour

struggling, Mr Gilmore would probably be the main beneficiary were Mr Barrett to step aside.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin, a councillor on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, is also competing for her party's nomination in the constituency.

Ms Hanafin was involved in a high-profile row with party headquarters over her local elections candidacy earlier this year and while Fianna Fáil has held numerous selection conventions in recent weeks, the Dún Laoghaire ticket is expected to be one of the last to be finalised.

Meanwhile, Minister for Communications Alex White also said he will stand in Dublin Rathdown, ending speculation that he might switch to neighbouring Dublin South-West, which goes from a four- to a five-seater.