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Countdown begins to expected February election

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BATTLE LINES DRAWN Fianna Fáil Director of Elections Dara Calleary and Minister Michael Ring are both confident their parties will be in government after the upcoming general election. Pic: John O'Grady

Mayo constituency will be keenly watched as a barometer of the national mood

Edwin McGreal

The election countdown in Mayo is under starters orders. Both Fine Gael Minister  for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring and Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary are expecting a February election, while candidates in the county are already off the blocks.
Ring and Calleary will be among those vying to win seats in the Mayo four seater in the 2020 election, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expected to announce a date this week.
This will be the first Dáil election since 1975 without former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and the Mayo constituency will be keenly watched as a barometer of the national mood.
With three outgoing TDs, two outgoing senators and a high-profile Green candidate, Mayo promises to be an intriguing battleground, and voting is set to take place within a matter of weeks.
“We’ve a cabinet meeting tomorrow, but listening to the Taoiseach yesterday, I think it will be in February, and my personal hope is that it is in February,” Minister Ring told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday).

Fianna Fáil ‘gung ho’
Dara Calleary was confirmed as the Fianna Fáil Director of Elections on Sunday.
“We are certainly planning for a February election. In my role as National Director of Elections, our national executive is meeting tomorrow to approve all the candidates and our front bench are meeting tomorrow,” he told The Mayo News yesterday.
Deputy Calleary added that as part of their plans, Fianna Fáil held a meeting of their Comhairle Dáil Ceanntair on Friday night last in The Ivy Tower Hotel in Castlebar, with their two candidates, Calleary and Deputy Lisa Chambers, in attendance.
“We had a huge, packed hall and our team is gung ho. Lisa (Chambers) and I are going to leave no stone unturned in a bid to retain our two seats. We are confident but not complacent,” he said.

‘No notion of retiring’
Across town in the TF Royal Hotel there was a packed crowd too for the launch of Fine Gael candidate Alan Dillon’s campaign. Minister Ring and Senator Michelle Mulherin, Dillon’s running mates, were in attendance, while the launch was performed by Enda Kenny.
The former Taoiseach said that Dillon ‘has the potential to rise through the ranks of Fine Gael and hold a ministerial position if we give him the chance’.
Meanwhile Mayo’s current minister, Michael Ring, says he has no intention of following Enda Kenny into retirement any time soon.
“Thank God I have my health, and as long as I feel people want me and I am able to represent them, I won’t be going anywhere. I have no notion of retiring. I’m in politics all my life. Sure what would I do without it?”