Sunday 25 September 2016

Dublin South-West

Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (1), Sinn Fein (2), Fine Gael (1), Renua (1)

Published 18/01/2016 | 15:10

Water charges, housing and crime are three huge issues being raised on the doorsteps in Dublin South West.

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The coalition parties took three out of four seats here in 2011 - but fortunes have changed drastically.

Despite an extra seat on offer as a result of the boundary changes, both Fine Gael and Labour know that left-wing candidates are likely to sweep to victory here in a few weeks time.

Such is the confidence among Paul Murphy’s supporters, a decision was taken to field a second Anti austerity candidate in Sandra Fay.

Murphy has emerged as one of the leaders of the country’s left-wing movement and will be comfortably returned to the Dáil.

But there will be much focus on his upcoming trial, scheduled for later this month, stemming from his role in the infamous Jobstown protest which left Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell trapped in their car for several hours.

Staying with the left, Sinn Féin could pull off a significant victory in Dublin South-West by landing two seats.

The party is openly targeting the Labour Party’s support base, much of which is up for grabs as a result of the backlash the junior coalition partner has received.

There had been speculation that the hard working Sinn Fein TD Séan Crowe would step down but he has since opted to run again and defend his seat.

Crowe is joined on the ticket by the young councillor Sarah Holland, who is seen as a future star of the party.

The presence of Murphy, Crowe and Holland will pose a major challenge for Labour.

The party’s former leader and ex-Cabinet minister Pat Rabbitte is stepping down. And in another blow, former Labour TD Eamonn Maloney recently quit the party and is standing as an independent.

A split in party tactics prompted the Donegal native to unexpectedly withdraw from the election race his name in the summer. Maloney disagreed with the party’s decision to pursue a two candidate strategy.

Labour will field two sitting councillors, Pamela Kearns and Mick Duff. Taking one seat is a possibility but it will require a well-managed vote strategy and a poll boost in the coming weeks.

Some voters in Dublin South West are likely to examine the ballot paper in a bid to locate the name ‘Brian Hayes’. The high profile politician would have been a contender to top the poll had he not taken the decision to contest the European Elections, in which he was a successful.

The move leaves Fine Gael fighting to retain the seat vacated by Hayes. Three candidates are on the ticket: Councillors Colm Brophy and Anne Marie Dermody, and activist Karen Warren.

Dermody found herself at the centre of controversy recently after she claimed that women should vote for female candidates, even if they are in parties other than Fine Gael.

Brophy is close to Hayes and is seen as the party’s best chance of taking a seat. But her running mate Dermody should not be entirely ruled out, particularly if the party enjoys a poll surge as the election edges closer.

For Fianna Fáil, Dublin South West is being targeted as part of the party’s desperate bid to rebuild itself in the capital.

Councillor John Lahart is no stranger to elections, having recently contested the by-election prompted by Hayes’s departure to Europe.

He finished sixth and polled just over 2,000 votes. A significantly improved performance is required this time if Lahart, whose support base is in Rathfarnham and Knocklyon, is to take a Dáil seat.

The dark horse in  the race is Renua candidate and councillor Ronan McMahon. The former Fine Gael man performed well in the by-election and is deeply popular locally.

Another one to watch is Senator Katherine Zappone, who is running as an independent despite holding talks with the Social Democrats.

Francis Noel Duffy of the Green Party was elected during his first outing in the locals. Married to fellow general election candidate Catherine Martin, Duffy is unlikely to feature during the business side of things.

Independent candidates Declan Burke, Peter Fitzpatrick Deirdre O’Donovan complete the field. O’Donovan is a member of the Independent Alliance and is highly rated by Shane Ross.

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