Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick during his time as chairman of Offaly County Council
An Portarlington-based Offaly councillor claims he can represent the Laois Offaly town as a Fianna Fáil TD if the border town moves to Kildare at the next General Election.
The Constituency Commission has recommended a return of the old Laois Offaly five seat constituency minus some 12,000 Portarlington voters. Kildare South will become a four-seater instead of a three-seater under the recommendations, mainly at the expense of Laois. Laois and Offaly were seperated only came out about for the 2016 General Election.
Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick said he would be "fairly positive" about the prospect of running in the next General Election in that Kildare South constituency.
"I'm looking into the exact boundaries and have spoken to some senators, but with the amount of votes from the Portarlington area going to Kildare South, it might be to my own advantage," the Fianna Fáil councillor said.
The Cloneygowan Fianna Fáil man said his party is "taken aback" that the town can be "picked up and put into Kildare". He insisted that the extra seat in the new Kildare constituency could go to the second largest town in Laois.
He explained that his party colleague Seán Ó Fearghaíl in Kildare South would automatically retain a Dáil seat as he is the sitting Ceann Comhairle. He claimed this would leave a substantial amount of Fianna Fáil votes. Dep Ó Fearghaíl was elected in 2016 with a total of 8,220 votes including transfers. Fianna Fáil held two seats in Kildare South in that election.
Fitzpatrick suggested that if he could "work with him on it," there may be the possibility of a Portarlington seat given the size of the electorate being moved. "I think the people of the area would be delighted to have a local TD and it doesn't matter to them if by name it is Kildare South, provided they have representation," he said.
Meanwhile, sitting Sinn Féin TD for Offay Carol Nolan is confident a boundary change in the constituency will not affect her Dáil seat despite the fact that she will be up against a party colleague to hold on. Dep Nolan is "confident" her "hard work on the ground" will be enough to safeguard her seat.
If the change is made, the Offaly TD will be up against Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley. He won a seat in Laois Offaly in 2011 and retained his seat in 2016.
Dep Nolan took the last seat in Offaly just ahead of Cllr Fitzpatrick behind Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and poll-topper Barry Cowen of Fianna Fáil.