Fine Gael (1), Fianna Fail (1) and Independent (1).
Published 18/01/2016 | 11:59
Once considered one of the most conservative constituencies in Ireland, Cork North West also stood out as boasting one of the most efficient Fine Gael electoral machines in Ireland.
For decades, Fine Gael defied a smaller poll than Fianna Fail to walk away with two of the three seats thanks to skilled vote transfer management, in part due to the Creed family which has supplied TDs here since 1965. That Fine Gael dominance effectively ended in the disastrous 2002 General Election for Fine Gael though the party restored its two seat standing in February 2011.
Sinn Fein are expecting a poll boost but consider being in contention for the third seat as a bonus. Left wing candidates are expected to poll well but with little expectation of landing a seat.
The primary focus will be on several high profile independents including Cork County Mayor Councillor John Paul O’Shea and journalist-European Parliament challenger, Diarmuid O’Flynn who has joined the Independent Alliance.
A key question will be whether Councillor O’Shea can mirror his local election performance in a general election. Standing as an independent, the community activist and media-savvy politician is widely considered to pose the greatest threat to Fine Gael’s second seat. A decent first preference vote coupled with a transfer-friendly campaign could just see him over the line.
Mr O’Flynn, best known as one of the Ballyhea ‘burn the bondholders’ campaigners, is also expected to deliver a strong performance thanks to his appeal across the GAA world and rural rights campaigns.
Another potentially strong campaign is expected from independent Steven O’Riordan, a film-maker and brother of disability rights campaigner, Joanne O’Riordan.
The number of independent and left-wing candidates, and the destination of their transfers, is likely to make it extremely difficult for FG to defend their second seat