The rippling tide of excitement is growing into a wave in the run-up to the European elections with John Gormley announcing that the poll in the south will take place on Friday 5th June.
According to the Irish Times, it is expected that the Dublin South by-election, caused by the death of former Fianna Fáil minister Séamus Brennan, and the Dublin Central by-election, resulting from the death of Independent TD Tony Gregory, will be held on that day too, which will enhance interest in proceedings. For added spice, the local elections will also take place on 5th June.
This will be the first time that Fianna Fáil will have faced the electorate since the financial crisis wreaked havoc in the Republic. With support for the government party having slumped to a record low, there is a strong chance that Fine Gael could capitalise on public disenchantment with Fianna Fáil and build on its strong showing in the previous European and local elections in 2004.
Enda Kenny's party, who along with Labour cast themselves as the ‘alternative government’ going into the 2007 general election but failed to win enough seats to dethrone Fianna Fáil, will seek to use a strong showing in the locals as a springboard for further gains in the Dáil when the next Leinster House elections take place.
Fianna Fáil’s dipping into worker pensions, the ‘income levy’, job losses, and a range of other belt-tightening exercises on the part of the government such as scrapping the teen vaccination against HPV, will make this one of the toughest elections for the ‘Republican Party’ since its foundation.
Meanwhile, the frontrunners in the north’s European poll, which takes place the day prior to the southern elections, have finally been confirmed. Existing MEPs Bairbre de Brún of Sinn Féin, Jim Nicholson of the UUP (running this time under a UUP/ Conservative banner) and Jim Allister of the TUV (formerly DUP) will be joined by the SDLP’s Alban Maginness MLA and Cllr Diane Dodds of the DUP on the ballot paper.
Election junkies get ready.