FIRST TO THE POST Though late to state his intention to run, Dr Jerry Cowley was the first candidate to officially register when he handed in his nomination papers on Monday last. Dr Cowley (on right) is pictured in Castlebar Courthouse shaking hands with his proposer, Pat Smyth, who is also his election agent, after handing in his papers. Also pictured is Returning Officer Fintan Murphy and Court Clerk Marie Quinn.
As nomination deadline looms, the electorate’s choice is defined
With the deadline for nominations to run in the General Election passing at noon tomorrow (Thursday), Mayo looks set to have 16 candidates.
Nine will run for a political party, the remaining seven are Independent or Non-Party candidates.
As of lunchtime today, eleven had declared. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his Fine Gael colleagues, Michael Ring and Michelle Mulherin, are due to hand in their papers tomorrow, while Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh and late entrant Kamal Uddin (Independent) are due to hand in their papers later this afternoon.
Eight out of the 16 candidates have run in a General Election before: the Fine Gael trio; Fianna Fáil duo Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers; Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh; Dr Jerry Cowley (Independent) and Seán Forkan (Independent).
Five of them have experience as a TD for Mayo while the other three ran for the first time in a General Election in 2011. Both Chambers and Conway-Walsh polled reasonably well that year with 3,343 and 2,660 first-preference votes, respectively. However, Seán Forkan was at the back of the field, picking up only 29 votes.
Two more candidates – the Green Party’s Margaret Sheehan and Kamal Uddin (Ind) have previously stood, unsuccessfully, in local elections in Mayo.
Running for the first time at local or national level are Tom Moran (People Before Profit/Anti Austerity Alliance), Michael Farringdon (Renua) and four Independents/Non-Party candidates – Gerry O’Boyle, Stephen Manning, Peter Jordan and George O’Malley.
Formerly a five seater, Mayo is now a four-seater constituency after a large chunk of South Mayo was absorbed into Galway West.
Current betting has the four outgoing TDs all priced to be returned. While Taoiseach Enda Kenny (1/500), Minister of State Michael Ring (1/100) and Dara Calleary (1/20) are all priced as highly likely to be elected, both Paddy Powers and Boylesports foresee a big battle for the last seat.
Outgoing TD Michelle Mulherin is priced as favourite, but Lisa Chambers and Rose Conway-Walsh are not far behind in the betting.
Neither bookie has a price yet for former TD Dr Jerry Cowley, who announced his candidature late last month.
Candidates can withdraw up until 12 noon on Friday.