He saw off competition from Anita Lenihan — sister of the late Brian Lenihan — who was hoping to win back the seat for the family. Ms Lenihan is active in the Fianna Fáil organisation in Dublin West and was approached to run in 2011 after Brian’s death, but “didn’t feel the time was right”.
Mr McGuinness was the preferred candidate of the party leadership after he came second in the 2011 by-election in the constituency, with 7,742 first-preference votes.
The by-election — expected on May 23 — comes after Patrick Nulty resigned last month, when it emerged he had sent inappropriate Facebook messages to female constituents.
Socialist Ruth Coppinger is the favourite for the seat, with her chances boosted by Joe Higgins’s announcement yesterday that he would stand down at the next general election. The 67-year-old said he was making the decision so the “baton” could be passed to the next generation. In a statement he said he would “continue to fight for the people of Dublin West as a public representative over the next two years, as I have tried to do since I was first elected to Dublin County Council 23 years ago”.
He said: “In particular, we need to step up the fight against the policy of austerity which is robbing ordinary people of any chance of real recovery.”