By James Ward, PA
The Dublin Bay South byelection is likely to be held in the summer, the Tánaiste has suggested.
The seat recently vacated by former housing minister Eoghan Murphy will be fiercely contested by all the major parties.
The writ is expected to be moved soon, which would trigger an election that could potentially take place in June, July or October.
At a press conference with the Fine Gael candidate, Pembroke councillor James Geoghegan, Leo Varadkar signalled his preference for a summer contest.
He said: “I always prefer electioneering in the summer and campaigning in the summers, it’s a much more pleasant experience.
I think most voters in our lives and in our constituency don't look at the opportunities that a candidate has had in life. I think they look at how they use those opportunities
“I did my best to avoid a winter election last time.
“So I would definitely prefer a poll in the summer, it’s just a more pleasant experience for everyone.
“I also don’t like schools to be closed to hold the election.”
Cllr Geoghegan has vowed to campaign on housing issues, an issue that has plagued government, and Fine Gael in particular, in recent years.
He said: “My generation and younger have been locked out of the housing market in ways that was previously unimaginable.
“I want to be a voice for that generation in delivering at the supply of new homes.
Mr Geoghegan (35) comes from a family of barristers, Supreme Court judges and former TDs. After his selection convention last week he hit out at claims that he is a “posh barrister”.
He disagreed that his background could hinder him on housing issues.
He said: “I think most voters in our lives and in our constituency don’t look at the opportunities that a candidate has had in life.
“I think they look at how they use those opportunities.
“My track record on Dublin City Council is somebody who’s a member of the Strategic Housing Committee, a Fine Gael member of the Finance Committee and a Fine Gael member on the Homelessness Committee.
✅I am running to become the next TD for Dublin Bay South.
Like many young people, I know the challenges we face, and if elected, I will:
🍽Help re-open the country
🚴🏼♀️Make Dublin a 15 minute city
🏡Get homes built
Learn more about me:https://t.co/RDHcqGVkmm pic.twitter.com/coTBj0TbYo
— Cllr James Geoghegan (@GeogheganCllr) May 17, 2021
“That demonstrates that all I’ve really done is tried to find solutions for the housing crisis.
“And I’m committed to doing that if I’m elected.”
He said he had rented a “box room in Rathmines” in his youth and now pays a mortgage on a family home with his wife.
He added: “Both of us are self-employed working people. I think like every other working people out there, we were saving money, saving the deposit.
“We were lucky enough to put a deposit together. Everyone who can get access to support, benefits from that support. I’m not going to go into the specific circumstances of my own mortgage.”
Mr Geoghegan was selected as the Fine Gael candidate unopposed, after former TD Kate O’Connell decided not to run, saying she did not feel she had the support of the party.
He praised Ms O’Connell’s record as a TD, but denied Fine Gael had an issue with gender balance after opting for him over her.
Mr Geoghegan is also a former member of the party Renua, but sought to distance himself from their views on Monday.
He said he had joined while serving as a parliamentary assistant to former Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton, who left the party to form Renua in protest at their position on the abortion referendum.
Mr Geoghegan said: “I stayed along until she was no longer a TD. After that, I was fully re-engaged within Fine Gael and I ran as a councillor in 2019.
“She’s somebody I’ve known since I was 19 years old. I’ve known her for over 15 years.
“It was really a personal thing. And I don’t agree with her social views on abortion, I voted to repeal the eighth [amendment] myself.
“I’ve never shared them. And I certainly don’t share any of the social views that I suppose that party subsequently became associated with.”
Mr Varadkar said Mr Geoghegan was a candidate “who would speak from within Government about issues that affect younger people in particular”.
He will run against Ivana Bacik for the Labour Party, independent candidate Mannix Flynn and People Before Profit’s Brigid Purcell.
Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Green Party and the Social Democrats have yet to confirm their candidates.