With formal confirmation that General Election 2020 will take place on Saturday, February 8, candidates, both confirmed and intending, have an immensely short timeframe to garner positive traction as they aim to attain a seat in the 33rd Dáil.
While a Saturday polling day is historically unusual, both the Nice Referendum and Children’s Referendum were previously held on this particular day.
Formally confirming the General Election 2020 date, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, noted his decision to hold the election on a Saturday was to make voting easier for families with children.
“I do so knowing the inconvenience to families of a polling day on a weekday during school term – time off work, lost income, increased childcare costs. I also want to make it easier for students and those working away from home to cast their votes," An Taoiseach remarked.
Four seats will be contested in the Longford/Westmeath constituency with a new political representative guaranteed to grace Leinster House when Dáil Éireann convenes post general election, following the decision by Labour Party Deputy, Willie Penrose, not to put his name to the ballot paper.
Eighteen candidates aspired for constituency success in February 2016 with Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy topping the poll in the Keenagh count centre. Twelve counts passed prior to Independent candidate, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran claiming the second seat on offer.
Peter Burke of Fine Gael managed to secure the third seat on the fifteenth count, prior to an elongated process at the County Longford venue which finally culminated in Willie Penrose retaining his Dáil Éireann position.
A number of candidates have confirmed their general election intent to date with local Minister of State, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, departing the Independent Alliance grouping to stand as a sole Independent representative.
Senator Gab McFadden, Deputy Peter Burke and Cllr. Micheál Carrigy will contest the general election for Fine Gael, while Deputy Robert Troy and Cllr. Joe Flaherty will aspire for Fianna Fáil success on February 8. It is noteworthy that Fianna Fáil are choosing not to run an Athlone based candidate in General Election 2020.
Former Westmeath senior footballer (and prominent member of the 2004 Leinster championship winning team ) Alan Mangan is on the Labour Party ticket and will hope to claim the seat vacated by his party colleague, while the Green Party representative, Cllr. Louise Heavin, will hope for a strong showing following her local election success in May 2019, while, at the time of going to press, Sinn Féin had nominated Sorca Clarke to contest the constituency.
Also contesting General Election 2020 in the Longford/Westmeath constituency are Independent candidates, Donal Jackson, who has featured on the ballot paper in both the general election in 2011 and 2016, and Anna Kavanagh, while Deputy Leader of The National Party, James Reynolds, has also announced his intention to seek a Dáil seat.