Fine Gael’s Jim Higgins and Máiréad McGuinness will seek to retain their Brussels seats following selection as the party’s EU candidates for the Midlands-North-West constituency.
The Mayo based Jim Higgins and the Louth based Ms McGuinness were first elected to the EU parliament in 2004 and retained the seats at the following elections in 2009. However on those occasions, both ran in different constituencies - MEP Higgins in Connacht-Ulster and Ms McGuinness in Leinster.
Under the electoral boundary revisions, both now find themselves in the sprawling 15 county constituency of Midlands-North-West, which is made up of Connacht, the three Ulster counties in the Republic, and the northern half of Leinster. There is also understood be considerable rivalry between the two candidates.
“There is a huge challenge ahead in order for Fine Gael to try to win two seats,” said MEP Higgins after the selection convention, which was held in Athlone. “My party colleague is a huge media performer and has a massive profile. She is certain to be elected. In terms of taking a second seat, we need to divide up the areas, in order to successfully canvass. These are details which need to be worked out in the coming days.”
Along with MEPs Higgins and McGuinness, the other declared candidates for Midlands-North-West are Cllr Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin ), Sen Ronan Mullen (Independent ), and Cllr Mark Dearey (Greens ).
As yet Fianna Fáil has not selected a candidate and may be unable to do so until sitting MEP Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher decides whether he will run or not in May. However the party’s agriculture spokesperson and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív announced on Twitter recently that he will not be seeking a tilt at the EU elections. As regards Labour, the party’s Athenry based senator Lorraine Higgins has expressed strong interest in standing for the EU parliament.