Race for Dáil seats is up and running across the county

The race to fill the four Mayo seats up for grabs in next month's general election got up and running this week after An Táoiseach Leo Varadkar requested President Higgins to dissolve the 32nd Dáil.

One thing for sure, when the votes are counted after the election takes place on Saturday, February 8, is that there will be at least one new face representing the constituency, with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD stepping away from politics.

Kenny first won a seat in 1975 in the 20th Dáil, replacing his father following his death and he went on to defend his seat in the 12 general elections afterwards.

Sitting TD's Minister Michael Ring (FG ) and Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary TD and his party colleague and fellow opposition front bench spokesperson, Lisa Chambers TD, are all contesting the retention of the seats they currently hold. Two other current Oireachtas members are also looking to win seats, with Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway Walsh and Fine Gael Senator and former TD, Michelle Mulherin, both also in the race.

Fine Gael newcomer, Alan Dillon, will be looking to try and hold on to the seat his party have held in Castlebar by the retiring Kenny, while Green Party candidate, Saoirse McHugh, will be looking to make a dent in the polls after her strong showing in the European elections last year, where she polled 51,019 first preference votes in the Midlands-North West constituency.

Other confirmed candidates at present for the election include People Before Profit candidate Joe Daly from Castlebar, Aontú's Paul Lawless and the founder of Ireland's Future, Gerry Loftus - all three men contested last year's local elections with Daly getting 437 first preference votes in the Castlebar area; Lawless getting 677 in the Claremorris area and Loftus, who contested the local elections in the Castlebar area as an Independent candidate, getting 552 first preference votes.

Mayo changed from a five-seat to a four-seat constituency at the last general election in 2016 that saw two Fine Gael and two Fianna Fáil TDs returned by the electorate, with Deputy Lisa Chambers winning a seat for the first time and Seantor Mulherin losing the seat she had held before that (Senator John O'Mahony had held the fifth seat in Mayo from 2011-2016 but contested the Galway West constituency in 2016 ).

In the 2016 election, Deputy Kenny received 13,318 first preference votes, Minister Ring received 11,275, Deputy Calleary received 9,402, Deputy Chambers received 8,231 to get elected, with Senator Mulherin getting 7,841 number one votes and Senator Conway Walsh finishing in sixth place with 6,414.

When the percentage of first preference votes was broken down by party in that election, Fine Gael received just over 50 per cent of the vote, with Fianna Fáil getting just under 28 per cent and Sinn Féin 10.1 per cent, with the other 12 per cent shared out among independents and smaller parties.


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