Renua leader and Offaly County Councillor John Leahy
RENUA leader and Offaly councillor, John Leahy, has told the Offaly Express that he has "mixed feelings" about the proposed return of the old Laois/Offaly constituency.
The Constituency Commission has recommended that that existing constituencies of Laois and Offaly change from two three-seaters into one five-seater.
"From the viewpoint of TD representation, it is disappointing to see the counties losing a TD," Leahy remarked.
"On another level for me, though, it actually gives me a better chance of winning a seat," he added. Leahy explained by suggesting Fine Gael and Sinn Féin have two strong candidates in Laois, Charlie Flanagan and Brian Stanley.
"They will definitely take votes from Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Carol Nolan respectively. It is much more difficult for big parties to win two seats in a five seat constituency compared to winning one seat in a three seat constituency," John commented.
"So if both Marcella and Carol were to be in trouble, it certainly leaves me right in the mix to win a seat come the next election," he concluded.
Leahy was a viable candidate in the 2016 election, but was eventually eliminated on the fifth count when he was approximately 600 votes behind the next lowest candidate at the time, Fianna Fail's Eddie Fitzpatrick, who himself lost out on a seat by 170 votes to Carol Nolan.
In the new Laois/Offaly constituency in any forthcoming general election, it would be widely expected that Fiann Fail pair Sean Fleming and Barry Cowen would be elected along with sitting Minister Charlie Flanagan for Fine Gael.
Brian Stanley is considered the stronger of the Sinn Féin TDs ahead of Carol Nolan, although Stanley will suffer from the loss of Portarlington to Kildare South. If Eddie Fizpatrick was to run, it would be more than likely in the now four-seat Kildare South constituency.
That would effectively leave the likes of Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Carol Nolan, John Leahy, John Foley, and perhaps a third Fianna Fail candidate fighting it out for one seat in Laois/Offaly.
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