Mary Mitchell O'Connor to join Dun Laoghaire battle for Dail seat
FINE Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor has been selected to represent the party in the Dun Laoghaire constituency.
Ms O'Connor fended off a challenge from two prominent councillors and will now battle in one of the most contested constituencies in Dublin.
The close contest expected in Dun Laoghaire is compounded by the fact that just three seats are up for grabs. This is due to presence of Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.
Fine Gael is confident that Mr Barrett will remain in his position until at least after the General Election, despite previous suggestions that he may resign.
Mr Barrett claimed in December that he was considering a return to the backbenches and may turn down the free Dail run afforded to holders of his office.
"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. I can do that on the backbenches," he said at the time.
But Mr Barrett is now expected to contest the election as Ceann Comhairle in a move that effectively reduces the Dun Laoghaire constituency from four seats to just three.
While a spokesperson for Mr Barrett yesterday said he had no comment to make surrounding his intentions, a number of Fine Gael sources have played down his previous remarks.
"Barrett is keeping things close to his chest, as is his nature, but there's no doubt he will take the free pass," said one minister.
Ms O'Connor was continuing to canvass support yesterday amid concerns she could be defeated by sitting councillors Maria Bailey and Barry Ward.
Fianna Fail has its own internal battle for a place on the party's Dun Laoghaire ticket involving former minister Mary Hanafin and councillors Kate Feeney, Jennifer Cuffe and Cormac Devlin.
Labour has yet to select a candidate after sitting TD and former leader Eamon Gilmore announced his intention to step down at the next election.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett is expected to hold onto his seat.