Dublin set to be 'group of death' as candidates line up for EU election
Dublin is set to be the "group of death" in the European election as three ex-ministers, a sitting MEP, the President's daughter and a well-known TD vie for just three seats.
Nominations for next month's elections closed yesterday, with 59 candidates putting their names forward across the three constituencies.
The competition is expected to be fierce after the UK's decision to hold its own vote, pending its departure from the EU.
Ireland was to gain two extra seats - one each in Dublin and Ireland South - but these will now be put into "cold storage" until Brexit actually happens.
This means the battle in the capital will be intense. Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan is the only sitting MEP to defend her seat after Brian Hayes (Fine Gael) and Nessa Childers (Independent) decided to step down.
Former tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald will be fighting to retain the Fine Gael seat alongside ex-SDLP leader Mark Durkan, while former children's minister Barry Andrews wants to retake a seat for Fianna Fail.
However, the late entry of Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly has shaken things up.
Ms Daly, a TD for Dublin Fingal, decided to run because she believes "for too long the EU has been dominated by the military industrial complex and by corporate interests".
"It's time to take them on," she said.
A substantial number of the candidates in Dublin are of a left-wing persuasion.
Notable entries are senator Alice Mary Higgins who is Independent, and former communications minister Alex White who is running for the Labour Party. The Green Party is putting forward Dublin city councillor Ciaran Cuffe.
Mr Cuffe said the constituency is a "crowded space" and he will stand on his record from calling for "trams, not jams".
People Before Profit is running two candidates, Rita Harrold and Gillian Brien.
Councillor Gary Gannon is on the Social Democrats' ticket and councillor Eilis Ryan will represent The Workers' Party.
The field also include independent candidates Eammon Murphy, Herman Kelly, Gemma O'Doherty, Ben Gilroy, Mark Mullan, Tony Bosco Lowth and Aisling McNiffe.
Elsewhere, there will be 23 candidates on the ballot paper in Ireland South.
Sitting MEPs Deirdre Clune, Sean Kelly (both Fine Gael) and Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein) will defend their seats.
Junior Minister Andrew Doyle is also running for Fine Gael, while the Fianna Fail ticket includes Cork TD Billy Kelleher and councillor Malcolm Byrne.
Ms Daly's colleague Mick Wallace also decided to put his name forward at the potential expense of his Dail seat.
The vast constituency of Midlands-North-West, which stretches from Donegal to Kildare, will be contested by 17 candidates.
The sitting MEPs who are running again are Luke 'Ming' Flanagan (Independent), Mairead McGuinness (Fine Gael) and Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein).
Fianna Fail hopes to gain a seat here by running two TDs, Brendan Smith and Anne Rabbitte. However, the dynamics of the contest have been changed by the entry of presidential runner-up Peter Casey.