The transfer of some 14,000 voters (including Ballinasloe) to Roscommon-Galway has reduced this to a three-seater, and what is certain is that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will win a seat. It is equally certain that Labour, who won a seat in this constituency for the first time in 2011, will not retain it.
Ironically Colm Keaveney, Labour’s winner in 2011, will return to the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil TD, having defected largely because he voted against cuts to the respite care grant. In reality he also knew that there was no chance of keeping his seat. The retirement of Michael Kitt has left him with an open goal.
Ciarán Cannon also seems assured of a seat, which leaves the final seat between his colleague Paul Connaughton and an Independent - probably Sean Canney, who is associated with the Independent Alliance.
Some of Connaughton’s base has moved out, although Canney has to compete with Keaveney for the Tuam vote. However the Connaughton family has been ever present in the Dáil since 1981 through good times and bad - and that might be the deciding factor.
Ivan's take: The pundit is calling the result as one seat for Fine Gael, one for Fianna Fáil and one Independent - predicting that Colm Keaveney will lose his seat.
Seán Canney has been an Independent Galway County Councillor since 2004. He contested the 2011 general election in this constituency, securing almost 10% of the first preference votes. He describes himself as a community activist. His brother in law Paddy McHugh was an Independent TD for the constituency between 2002 and 2007.
Ciaran Cannon was first elected as a Progressive Democrats Councillor in 2004. He contested the 2007 general election but didn’t win a seat. He secured a Taoiseach’s nomination to the Seanad the same year. He was elected leader of the Progressive Democrats in 2008, resigning the post 11 months later to join Fine Gael. He was elected to the Dáil in 2011. He was a junior education minister in the coalition in the 31st Dáil until the reshuffle in 2014 when he returned to the backbenches.
Paul Connaughton was elected to the Dáil in 2011 on his first attempt. He is the son of Paul Connaughton, who was a TD for the constituency from 1981 until 2011. He was elected to Galway County Council on his first attempt in 2009. Before entering politics he had been a youth worker.
Michael Fahy is Galway’s longest serving County Councillor. Elected for Fianna Fáil in 1979 he left the party in 2004. He was jailed in 2007 for misappropriation of €7,000 in council funds, but the conviction was quashed by the court of criminal appeal in 2011. He is a passionate advocate for rural Ireland.
Lorraine Higgins was one of the Taoiseach’s nominees to the Seanad in 2011. She had contested but failed to get elected to Galway County Council in 2010 (as an Independent), to the Dáil in 2011 (for Labour) and to the Seanad on the Industrial and Commercial Panel (for Labour). She also contested the European elections in 2014 but did not win a seat in the Midlands North West constituency. She is a qualified barrister.
Colm Keaveney was elected to the Dáil in 2011 for the Labour Party. But the following year after being elected as teh Chairman of the Party he lost the whip after voting against the Government’s cut to the respite care grant. He then sat as an Independent TD before joining Fianna Fáil in December 2013. He had unsuccessfully contested the 1997 and 2007 general elections, was elected a town councillor in 1999 and a Galway County Councillor in 2004 and 2009.
Aengus Melia Direct Democracy Ireland-National Citizens Movement. Melia is a Tuam-based factory worker.
Ni Chroinin is a politics graduate from Glasgow University. Along with her sister, she is a co-founder of Moonfish Theatre group in Galway.
Anne Rabbittee has been a Galway County Councillor since 2014. A widowed mother of three, she says she believes the voices of rural Ireland need to be heard in areas like farming, education, health, water, social housing and bus services.
Annemarie Roche has been selected by Sinn Féin to contest this constituency for the party. She holds a BA in Public and Social Policy and a Masters in Public Advocacy and Activism. She was born and raised in England to Irish parents.