Barry Cowen will be Fianna Fáil’s candidate for the midlands-northwest constituency in June’s European Parliament elections.

The Offaly TD was chosen from a strong field, beating Niall Blaney by the narrowest of margins in Sunday’s selection convention.

Held in four venues across the sprawling constituency, which reaches from Donegal to Kildare and Louth to Mayo, Cowen received a total of 1,140 votes in the second count.

Mayo senator Lisa Chambers was eliminated after the first count.

A TD since 2010, Cowen was appointed Minister for Agriculture in June 2020, only to be dismissed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin weeks later due to a historical drink driving issue. The brother of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen is very popular among grassroots Fianna Fáil members. With a fifth seat, along with Cowen’s political base of Offaly and Laois, added to the constituency for the northern half of the country, Fianna Fáil will be confident of regaining a seat.