The one man I thought was certain to take the field for Fianna Fail was Niall Blaney TD in Donegal North East. After his notification last night that he would not, the man who will take his place is a guy called Charlie McConalogue from Carndonagh (preferred over Senator Cecilia Keaveney). Adds: it may be part of a general cut and run theme.
If I were to make an educated guess it may be that the Blaney machine is defecting to Sinn Fein camp on an uncomfortable/unsustainable level. Not everyone in the family was greatly enamoured of Niall’s decision to return to Fianna Fail.
It confirms that the two frontrunners in this three seater are Padraig McLochlainn of Sinn Fein and Joe McHugh of Fine Gael. But Sean Donnelly has just suggested that McConalogue could be challenged by Jimmy Harte who is running for Labour.
Unlike Frank McBrearty, he has a political pedigree in the constituency (even as Labour does not). He’s the son of former Fine Gael TD Paddy Harte, and has a strong base in the Letterkenny area.
On pure numbers you’d be tempted to think there just isn’t enough core vote there for Harte (who would need to take first preferences from both McHugh and from Jim McDaid’s support). But if the patterns of Donegal South West repeat, who knows what will happen with transfers.