The general election has been confirmed for Saturday, February 8, and the scramble for the four seats in Sligo-Leitrim has begun in earnest.
The inclusion in the race of former TD and MEP Marian Harkin, as first reported by the Leitrim Observer last Monday, means a frenetic three weeks lies ahead for the candidates who have so far declared their intention to contest the election.
The Taoiseach made the announcement on Tuesday and went to Áras an Uachtaráin to ask President Michael D Higgins to dissolve the Dáil.
It will be the first time a Saturday general election has been held since 1918.
Marian Harkin, who will be among the favourites to claim one of the four seats on offer, spoke of the “real possibilities that exist for balanced regional development”.
She will be joined on the ticket in an increasingly crowded field by Fianna Fáil incumbents Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon and Sinn Féin's sitting TD, Martin Kenny.
Others who have thrown their hat in the ring include Senator Frank Feighan and Sligo councillor Thomas Walsh for Fine Gael, Fenagh man and first time candidate Shane Ellis for Fianna Fáil, Sligo councillor Chris MacManus for Sinn Féin, current Mayor of Sligo, Cllr Gino O'Boyle for People Before Profit, Nessa Cosgrove for the Labour Party, Finbar Filan for Renua and Leitrim man, Paul McWeeney for the National Party.
In the Independent ranks, former Fine Gael TD and Minister for State, John Perry is joined in the running by Sligo councillor Declan Bree with Bernie O'Hara from Dromahair, and Sligo man James Conway also declaring.
There is also the possibility of a candidate running for the Aontú party in the constituency.
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