CAMPAIGNERS involved in rescuing the Mayo GMIT campus from further decline and possible closure are lining up a candidate to run in the next general election, The Connaught Telegraph has learned.
Although no confirmation is forthcoming from the group at this stage, it is understood former Mayo campus business student Martin Corcoran is the frontrunner. He is the founder of the Save Mayo GMIT campaign.
The name of local national school teacher Harry Barrett, a former Labour Party town councillor, is also linked with the candidacy are the names of Noel Campbell, a former Sinn Féin town councillor, and Celine King, a former campus student.
The objective is to put pressure on Fine Gael in their bid to retain the seat held in Castlebar since 1975 by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is due to retire, and his late father, Henry, a TD for Mayo from 1954 until his death in 1975.
There has been strong speculation for some time that Enda's daughter, Aoibhinn, is being linked up as her father's replacement on the ticket by Fine Gael as the county town based candidate.
While she would be widely fancied in many quarters to win a seat, the presence of a high profile Save Mayo GMIT contender in the field could undermind her prospects.
A similar situation occurred in the 1994 Mayo West by-election when Castlebar businessman Paddy McGuinness ran due to a Fianna Fáil government's failure to give a commitment to the college and the party's candidate, Beverley Flynn, lost out to Fine Gael's Michael Ring as a result of transfers from McGuinness.
Mr. McGuinness has already indicated he will not be involved in another election campaign by the Save Mayo GMIT group.
But he stated political history could repeat itself if the people of Mayo felt strongly enough about the third-level facility.