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ELECTION FEVER!

IT’S General Election time again. The speculation was brought to an abrupt end on Tuesday when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar briefed the Cabinet and opposition leaders before making the journey to the Aras for a short meeting with the President.
It is the first time a sitting Taoiseach has opted for a Saturday poll and though Saturday 8th February is three weeks away the fun and games have already begun with the various parties and groupings setting out their stalls. Many pundits say the outcome may give rise to another confidence and supply arrangement but with a different party heading the government. Many are even indicating their coalition preferences while, of course, nobody will talk with Sinn Fein!
The Saturday choice seems to be a popular one. The logic it seems is based on an effort to encourage more young people to vote and to make it easier for working families, in particular those who might have to pay childcare if the election was held on a weekday.
Mr Varadkar feels now is the best time to hold an election with the Brexit deal in place and the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland. However, he admits the progress that had been made during the reign of the present government was not enough and many people do not feel the strength of the economy in their pockets or in their town. He will focus on what has been done and what can be done in the future. But he must have concerns about the behaviour of some of his TDs and a possible backlash in the polls over the goings-on.
Fianna Fáil and all the others will, by and large, be honing in on the government’s poor record on housing and health.
At local level, it will provide newcomers like Fine Gael’s Alan Dillon the chance to finally experience “the real thing” on the doorsteps, in addition to Achill’s Saoirse McHugh (Greens) and PBP’s Joe Daly, a local secondary school teacher from Castlebar. Meanwhile, in Sligo/Leitrim the entry of former MEP Marian Harkin into the fray as an Independent will put other candidates under pressure. But she’s not the only Independent in the race here. With the retirement of sitting TD, Tony McLoughlin, former

Fine Gael TD John Perry feels he has a chance of returning to Dáil Eireann, while everybody will be watching the debut performance of Councillor Thomas Walsh who is joining Frank Feighan on the FG ticket. The young councillor formerly worked as a Ministerial aide to Mr. Perry.