Deputy Brendan Smith at the Count Centre said he will be contesting the next General Election.

The General picture... ahead of the next election

With Local and European Elections wrapped up for another five years, the focus is now turning to the General Election - when it might be and who can we expect to see on the ballot paper.

Speculation is mounting in the Cavan Monaghan constituency as to the main players and the challengers. The sitting TDs are all expected to run but who might be joining them?

Fianna Fáil Deputy Brendan Smith told the Celt in no uncertain terms at the count centre over the weekend that he will be contesting the next General Election.

He quashed rumours that he might step down and pass the mantel on to niece Áine Smith who topped the poll in Cavan Belturbet at the weekend in her first election.

While Deputy Smith deflected questions of her Dáil prospects and the timing of same, he declared his own plans to contest the next general election.

“I intend to contest the next General Election, please God I will be re-elected,” he said.

“We never know who goes forward in elections in the future. People will make up their own mind, the party organisation will make up their mind at that time and I’m sure that, in the future, there will be plenty of people looking to contest for Fianna Fáil for a General Election in Cavan.”

“There will be good quality candidates, potential candidates throughout the county looking to go forward.”

On the count floor, results came slowly and tediously for the 36 candidates.

Shane P. O’Reilly from the Ballyjamesduff area topped the polls and was first to be elected in the area. He had already confirmed his intention to run in the General Election under the Independent Ireland banner in the Cavan Monaghan constituency.

Lester Gordon for the Irish People missed out on a seat in the eighth count for the Balljamesduff Municipal District. He’s also eyeing up a Dáil bid.

“I wish to run in the next General Election and all of this has been helpful to me in preparing for that,” he told the Celt.

Aontú’s Cllr Sarah O’Reilly ran for the party in the last General Election. Over the weekend, the poll topper in her area wouldn’t be drawn on running again. She simply stated that she planned to “enjoy this moment”.

Others to run last time out - yet to confirm - are Labour’s Liam van der Spek in Cavan and Tate Donnelly for the Green Party in Monaghan.

Fine Gael councillor T.P. O’Reilly from Virgina was another who contested the last General Election and hasn’t ruled out a second attempt saying he will “more than likely” seek a nomination from the party.

“I won’t say for sure,” Cllr O’Reilly said, adding that he is “only after getting through” a local election.

“It’s a bit premature to say,” he added.

Fellow Fine Gael councillor, Cllr Trevor Smith from Ballyjamesduff, said he “would have no plans”.

“There’s no point in even saying I would have considered it,” he said.

“We have to see what’s happening, we’ll probably have a think about it but not immediately, definitely it’s not on the radar yet.”

Over in Cootehill Carmel Brady, who was taking down campaign posters when The Anglo-Celt called on Monday afternoon, ruled out running.

“Not a chance, it never crossed my mind ever in my life.” Although some party faithful believe she would be a clever running mate for Minister Heather Humphreys, preventing a leak of a Cavan Fine Gael first preference vote across the county boundary into County Monaghan where Humphreys is unlikely to need it.

Newly elected Sinn Féin Councillor in the Bailieborough-Cootehill area Stiofán Conaty and fellow Sinn Féin Councillor Damien Brady in the Cavan Belturbet area both said they had no intentions to contest a general election. Although Sinn Féin headquarters is likely to want to run at least three if not four candidates - two in each county.

“We have a sitting TD, I’m sure Pauline will be putting her name forward so we’ll be happy just for her to contest her seat,” Damien said, adding that “at the present time” he is not considering running alongside her.

Considering Sinn Féin’s performance nationally in the local elections, some analysists say the Government might opt for an election later this year. However, both party leaders - Harrison and Martin - have dismissed the speculation.

Speaking at the count centre at the RDS in Dublin on Sunday evening, Taoiseach Simon Harris ruled out an early General Election based on local election results. Fine Gael were narrowly the most popular party at 23%, followed by Fianna Fáil at 22.9%. Independents followed at 20.9%.

While the exact date is uncertain, the next General Election must take place by March 2025.