According to the latest European Election opinion polls, Deputy Luke â€˜Mingâ€™ Flanagan (IND) has taken the lead in the Midlands-North-West constituency.
The polls show the Independent Deputy, who has been controversially in the headlines over the past few months, currently has 14% of the votes in the constituency, level with Sinn Feinâ€™s Matt Carthy. This indicates that he is ahead of stalwarts Marian Harkin (Ind), Jim Higgins and Mairead McGuinness (FG), and Pat â€˜the Copeâ€™ Gallagher (FF) both of whom have represented the large constituency for the past 10 years or more at European level.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged the Deputy Flanagan has chosen garda whistleblower John Wilson as his substitute candidate for the European elections.
Under the European Parliament election rules, candidates must nominate a replacement to take their seat should they resign or pass away during their tenure.
Mr Wilson, who was canvassing with Mr Flanagan in Cavan last Friday, said he was â€œhonouredâ€ to be selected for the position but did not envisage having to take up the role. â€œI donâ€™t anticipate it happening,â€ he cheerfully told the media.
The retired garda, who with his colleague Maurice McCabe revealed the failings in the penalty point system, had his sights set on running as an Independent candidate in this yearâ€™s local elections, however he was forced to withdraw his name from the race after was diagnosed with bowel cancer last month. â€œMentally I am strong but physically Iâ€™m not strong enough, and I donâ€™t take anything for granted,â€ Mr Wilson added. Deputy Flanagan indicated he chose Mr Wilson for the position because â€œhe is guided by his conscience and nothing elseâ€.
Last week the Roscommon TD claimed in the DÃ¡il that both he and Mr Wilson were under garda surveillance, alleging that an unmarked car followed them as they attended a meeting in the presence of a serving garda, preparing to give details to the ombudsman about alleged corruption in the national drugs unit.