Saturday 10 December 2016

Dublin Mid-West

Fine Gael (1), Sinn Fein (1), Labour (1), Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (1).

Published 18/01/2016 | 14:31

A potential future Taoiseach, a senior Sinn Féin strategist and two members of the infamous, and at times disastrous Fianna Fáil Government, are among those who will battle it out in the four seat Dublin Mid West constituency.

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Throw in a Labour Party TD who topped the poll last time round and you produce an intriguing electoral contest.

Despite being all but certain to be returned, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is taking nothing for granted and is spending much of her time in her constituency as the election nears.

She is widely seen as a potential successor to Enda Kenny and is one of the most able members of Dáil Éireann.

However, her political judgement has raised questions in the past, particularly in relation to the initial soft line she adopted to the re-emergence of the threat of the Provisional IRA.

While Ms Fitzgerald’s seat is all but secure, there are doubts over whether her running mate Derek Keating will be returned.

Keating was at the centre of the infamous ‘papergate’ controversy in June 2013 after his then parliamentary assistant Tommy Morris was caught on CCTV removing hundreds of free newspapers from shops in Lucan.

Morris, who no longer works for Keating, removed the copies of the ‘Lucan Gazette’ in a bid to conceal the front-page article which detailed a row between Mr Keating and a local school principal.

Keating’s prospects cannot be entirely ruled out - but party sources say he is facing an uphill battle to be re-elected.

The same cannot be said for Sinn Féin candidate Eoin Ó Broin. The Clondalkin councillor has emerged as one of the party’s most prominent media performers and he is at the forefront of devising Sinn Féin policy.

Ó Broin, whose partner is the party’s Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan, was defeated by Keating in the 2011 General Election, having polled over 5,000 votes.

Significantly, he is often trotted out to defend the party and its leader Gerry Adams in the wake of controversy.

Dublin Mid West is likely to come down to a dogfight for the final two seats.

Fianna Fáil is desperate to make gains in Dublin and has targeted this constituency as one of its best prospects.

Former Chief Whip and member of the party’s so-called ‘old guard’ John Curran is likely to go close to taking one of the final two seats.

But also in contention is Labour’s Joanna Tuffy, former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty and councillor Gino Kenny of the Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit/ (AAA/PBP).

As the TD who topped in the poll in 2011, one would expect that Tuffy will retain her seat, despite her party’s fortunes in the polls.

Her chances are enhanced as a result of the surprise decision of her party colleague Robert Dowds, a highly respected backbencher, to retire.

But local sources have detected a strong left wing vote as polling day edges ever closer. This could benefit Gogarty and Kenny and create a spell of trouble for the incumbent Tuffy.

The Social Democrats are running Anne Marie McNally, a young mother who is the communications manager for the party and for one of its leaders, Catherine Murphy TD.

McNally has tried to emulate Murphy on issues such as corruption and political reform.

But in what is her first electoral contest, taking a seat here is unlikely.

Independent councillor Francis Timmons and Lorraine Hennessy of the Workers’ Party complete the field.

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