Retiring Labour TD’s high hopes for party seats

AN outgoing Labour politician, who yesterday became the 27th retiring member of the current Dáil, believes his party could win seats numbering in the “mid to high 50s” in the next general election.

Brian O’Shea from Waterford told party leader Eamon Gilmore of his intention to retire and said it was “a very difficult decision” which was taken following consultation with his family over the festive season.

His retirement opens up a race to succeed him as the Labour flagbearer in Waterford, with several candidates expected to make an attempt to get on the ballot paper for the forthcoming general election.

The Labour leadership has previously spoken about running two candidates in the constituency but a date has yet to be set for a selection convention or any decision about how many will run in Waterford.

Mr O’Shea said yesterday he was happy the party would retain his seat at the next election and may even win a second in Waterford.

“I believe we could be into the mid to late 50s,” he said when asked how many seats Labour could win nationally. “Timing is everything in politics and if you have the momentum at the right time, then a lot of things can happen.”

He said the majority of the Irish electorate want Eamon Gilmore as the next taoiseach. “People will vote for a government and it will get down to whether we lead the government or Fine Gael lead the government.”

Likely candidates for the party’s nomination, or nominations, in Waterford include rising star and Dungarvan-based town councillor and social worker Ciara Conway, long-serving councillor and union activist Billy Kyne, as well as Waterford city-based Cllr Seamus Ryan and Cllr Ger Barron from Kilmacthomas.

Labour will be keen to retain the seat currently held by Brian O’Shea as Waterford is traditionally a constituency in which the party has done well.

Eamon Gilmore yesterday described the outgoing Mr O’Shea as “a calm and rational voice” who was invariably courteous.

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