Recently the Connaught Telegraph reported that Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan could contest the upcoming elections in the Mayo constituency
The newspaper reports that Ming refused to dismiss the speculation when pressed on the matter.
The story is fairly surprising considering Luke only recently took up his role as an MEP for the Midlands-North-West constituency.
Luke topped the poll in 2014 with 124,064 first preferences votes. This equates to about 19.2% of the total vote.
The Midlands-North-West constituency is comprised of: Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath; and the city of Galway.
Since Mayo is part of his constituency then Luke potentially has some votes already secured in the area.
Unfortunately there is no breakdown of how each county voted in the European elections, so we can’t obtain a figure for his support in Mayo.
However, given his strong showing in the European elections, the general electability of independents, and his high profile, then there is a real possibility Luke could take a seat.
It is curious that he is being linked to contest the election in Mayo, given his political and personal background is more aligned to Galway, Roscommon and to a lesser extent Leitrim.
However he may not want to stand against Michael Fitzmaurice, the Ming backed candidate who won the by-election for Luke’s vacant dail seat. Thus the decision (potentially) was to run in Mayo.
So why might he be running?
It should be acknowledged that as an MEP he has a much lower public profile in Ireland, and given the size of the European parliament (751 members) he arguably has limited speaking time or input overall.
There may also be personal reasons at play, such as the travel and time away from home that is involved with being an MEP.
These factors may have shaped his decision, if he does stand.
If Luke does declare it would see him going head to head with Enda Kenny. The Taoiseach topped the poll in Mayo in 2011.
If Luke fails to be elected he will retain his MEP seat. However if he was elected he would have to stand down as an MEP should he wish to take up his role as a TD.
In such a scenario one of his four nominees chosen as a replacement candidate would take up the position of MEP. John Wilson, the Garda whistle blower, is one of Luke’s potential replacements.
Of course there is a possibility that this is all just speculation and that Luke will not contest the election. So far no other media outlet has reported on the matter.
From the perspective of self-promotion then allowing such a story to run does Luke no harm.
I made queries of my own with Luke and his staff, but got no further comment on the matter. It will be interesting to see if this story develops further, or if it is just rumours.
The prospect of Luke contesting the same constituency of Enda Kenny is certainly mouth watering, and it could draw the current (and likely future) Taoiseach into a discussion on cannabis.
However, going by past evidence Enda has very little to say on the matter
I am still on the fence as to whether Luke should see out his full term as an MEP and contest the next general elections, or whether he should contest the upcoming elections.
On the one hand as someone who has contested an election, I think if an individual is fortunate enough to
win then they should see out the full term.
However I am also aware that having the one politician who has pushed for cannabis legalisation for almost two decades back in the dail could be a good thing.
Either way we wish Ming all the best in his future endeavors