Snapshot - Taking a leaf out of the Michael Moore playbook, Labour Youth were outside the Dail last week trying to provoke a response out of the Garboesque FG leader

In Camera

Fourteen years out of Leinster House, ex-TDs yearn to return

WHILE much attention has been focused on the 32 retiring TDs (and their €8m windfall), an interesting crop of former deputies are shaping up to retake their seats.

No fewer than 16 men and women who were previously elected, and then rejected, are standing in the forthcoming poll.

Adding to the perception that its cohort of candidates are not in the first flush of youth, the party with most ex/wannabes is Labour with five, which even includes three men who haven't had a seat in the Lower House since 1997.

Eric Byrne, then of Democratic Left, represented Dublin South-Central from 1989-'92 and again from 1994-'97. Byrne famously lost out to Ben Briscoe after a 10-day recount in 1992, and by 69 votes to Aonghus Ó Snodaigh in 2007.

Seán Kenny represented Labour in Dublin North-East from 1992, but hasn't stood since his vote collapsed in 1997.

The third long-time absentee is John Mulvihill in Cork East, who has run second on the left to Joe and Sean Sherlock since he lost out in 1997.

Jerry Cowley in Mayo, and Mae Sexton, sometime PD TD for Longford-Westmeath, also hope to make a return.

For FF, Martin Brady (Dublin NE) and Denis O'Donovan (Cork SW) are standing again after five years out.

Dan Boyle (Greens, Cork SC), Seán?Crowe (SF, Dublin SW), Frances Fitzgerald (FG, Dublin MW) and Liam Twomey (FG, Wexford) are also bidding to return to Dáil Eireann.

Left-wing independents Joe Higgins (Dublin W, left)?Séamus Healy (Tipperary S) and former Labour Party TD Declan Bree (Sligo-Leitrim), and other independents Catherine Murphy (Kildare S) and James Breen (Clare) are also hoping to make a comeback to Dublin 2.

Go figure

13% of Fianna Fáil candidates in the 2007 general election were women

28 constituencies in the 2011 general election where Fianna Fáil will not be fielding a female candidate

50,000 number of students that USI plans to register to vote in the run-up to the general election

This week in 1948

Echoes of rise of Inter Party in this year's election

WHILE politicians complain about winter elections, citing dark evenings and cold weather, they were once the norm. The last four general elections took place in May/June, but four of the previous five were held in the depths of winter. From 1973 to 1992 there were three elections in February, and there have been five in all.

The 1948 election was held on 4 February, and there are several parallels with today: Fianna Fáil had been in power for 16 years, senior figures were mired in allegations of corruption, and a new republican force had emerged in Clann na Poblachta. FF ended up six short of a majority and a motley crew of Fine Gael, Labour, three smaller parties and independents took power under John A Costello, a relatively minor Fine Gael?figure. The government lasted for three years.

The week in laughs

A driver is stuck in the usual two-hour traffic jam on the M50. Nothing is moving. Suddenly a man knocks on his window.

The driver rolls down his window and asks: "What's happening?"

"A gang of terrorists have kidnapped Brian Cowen; they are demanding a ransom of €600m or they are going to douse him with petrol and set him on fire. We are going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks: "How much is everyone giving, on average?"

"About a gallon."


Micheál Martin walked into Leinster House last week carrying a baby pig under each arm.

The garda sentry snapped to attention and said: "Nice pigs, sir."

The new FF leader replied: "These are rare Vietnamese Potbelly pigs: I got one for Brian Cowen and one for John Gormley."

The garda saluted again and replied, "nice swap, sir".


News hound - What it says in the papers

Limerick Leader - FG councillors clash over minimum wage

FINE Gael's Bill O'Donnell and Patrick O'Donovan ? who are both contesting the general election ? have clashed over the minimum-wage cut. Another candidate, Labour's James Heffernan, said some Limerick people are surviving on "potatoes and soup".

Roscommon Herald - Councillor rebels over two-candidate strategy

North Roscommon-based Fianna Fáil councillor Rachel Doherty said that she would not run if a two-candidate strategy was adopted by the party and has conceded that this was likely to be the preferred option in Roscommon/South Leitrim.

Nenagh The Guardian - Nenagh mayor will stand in election

Mayor of Nenagh Séamus Morris has announced that he is to contest the general election for Sinn Féin. Another entry to the contest may be the Thurles-based independent county councillor Jim Ryan, who said he would make up his mind in the coming days.

The Westmeath Independent - Noel O'Gara opts out of standing in election 2011

In 2007, Athlone businessman Noel O'Gara stood in four constituencies. "I won't be putting my name forward because nobody voted for me last time. Instead they voted for Mary O'Rourke, and people like that, and look at what's happened since then."