Donegal has become a crowded field for General Election candidates, with 20 hopefuls putting their names into contention before the close of nominations yesterday.
Both constituencies have seen an explosion of independent candidates, in what were already expected to be two hard-fought and difficult-to-predict races.
And despite last week's shock announcement from Niall Blaney, former Fianna Fil TD, that he would not stand for office this year there will still be a Blaney on the North-East ballot: The former deputy's cousin, Dara Blaney, yesterday announced that he would contest the election as an independent candidate.
When nominations closed at noon yesterday, the declared candidates for Donegal South-West included Mary Coughlan, TD, and Sen. Brian Domnhaill for Fianna Fil; Dinny McGinley, TD, for Fine Gael; Pearse Doherty, TD, for Sinn Fin; Cllr. Frank McBrearty for Labour; solar-panel installer and supplier John Duffy for the Green Party; and independent candidates Cllr. Thomas Pringle, hotelier Ann Sweeney and Stephen McCahill of the Ardara Parish Council.
For Donegal North-East, candidates include Cllr. Charlie McConalogue for Fianna Fil; Joe McHugh, TD, and Cllr. John Ryan for Fine Gael; Cllr. Jimmy Harte for Labour; business consultant Humphrey Murphy for the Green Party; Cllr. Pdraig MacLochlainn for Sinn Fin; and independent candidates Cllr. Ian McGarvey, Dara Blaney, marketing manager Ryan Stewart, health services advocate Betty Holmes and Letterkenny-based solicitor Dessie Shiels.
Mr. Blaney said he was part of New Vision, an independent alliance he said represented the largest group of independents ever to run in an Irish General Election. The alliance has 21 candidates running in elections this year, he said. Mr. Blaney's brother Eamonn Blaney is running as an independent candidate in Dublin North East.