Four new candidates have this morning announced plans to stand in the upcoming General Election.
Three of the new candidates will stand as independents – former MEP and TD Marian Harkin, Waterford Councillor Matt Shanahan and former Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy.
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has also announced plans to stand.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will announce the dissolution of the Dáil following this morning’s Cabinet meeting.
The poll will be held on Saturday February 8th.
Ms Harkin was an independent TD in the Sligo/Leitrim constituency from 2002 to 2007 and was an MEP from 2004 to 2019. The Sligo native didn't stand in the last European elections.
Speaking to Ocean FM this morning, she said she feels there is an opportunity for independent candidates to have a significant impact on the next administration.
“I have looked at the arithmetic in Dáil Éireann and I have looked at the opportunities and I honestly believe there is a real opportunity for an independent – either as an individual or as part of an independent grouping – to significantly influence the policies of the next government in relation to rural issues and regional issues,” she said.
“I just feel that this is an opportunity not to be missed.”
She said that increase influence can ensure that rural Ireland is “not always looking for the crumbs from the table. What is left over when everything is done.”
A wee announcement:
I will be asking the people of Cavan Monagan to elect me to the Dáil.
This election is an opportunity to end the rip-off of Irish families and the neglect of our communities by Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael.
It’s time for change - it’s time for Sinn Féin! pic.twitter.com/pHG3dnbLhS
— Matt Carthy MEP (@mattcarthy) January 14, 2020
“It is past time that we had regional policy as a given, rural policy as a given and I would hope that I would be able to play a significant role in doing that in the next Dáil.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy announced plans to stand in the Cavan/Monagan constituency.
He said the election offered an opportunity to end the “rip-off of Irish families and the neglect of our communities.”
“This constituency has been neglected for far too long,” he said. “Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have treated the people of these counties with disdain. I am looking to put that right.”
Earlier, former Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy confirmed she would stand as an independent in Wexford.
She came third in the recent by-elections – but was deselected by the party in the days after.
Her campaign was dominated by controversial comments she made regarding asylum seekers – who she said could be “infiltrated by ISIS” and may need to be “deprogrammed” an arrival in Ireland.
She later apologised for the comments.
On South East Radio this morning, she said she was talking about "illegal migration" when she made the comments and insisted she is "not a racist and the people of Wexford know I am not a racist."
Ms Murphy was referring to the Direct Provision system when she said: "These people are coming from such war-torn countries that they have to be deprogrammed, for the want of a better word, but through support services.
"They carry angst that you wouldn't ordinarily see, possibly infiltrated by ISIS and we have to protect ourselves against that."
Meanwhile, Waterford City and County Councillor Matt Shanahan has confirmed that he will run as an independent in Waterford.
Speaking to WLR this morning, he said he will campaign for equality between the south east and the rest of the country.
“I think we need to regain respect for ourselves down here in this city and this county,” he said.
“I think we have been treated deplorably in the last nine years of this Fine Gael-led administration.
“We are supposed to be a vibrant, equal region of this country and we are not being treated equally. Look at our hospital, look at our university most of all. Look at the policy making that is going on that is denying us on so many fronts in this city and county.
“That is why I am running. I am trying to offer people an alternative.”
Mr Varadkar is expected to make a formal announcement regarding the election at noon today.