Tuesday 27 September 2016

Kildare North

Social Democrats (1), Fine Gael (1), Fianna Fail (1), Labour (1).

Published 18/01/2016 | 11:50

Two of the candidates hoping to retain their seats in Kildare North are over the age of 70 – but write them off at your peril.

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Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan and the Labour Party’s Emmet Stagg are two of Leinster House’s most experienced politicians and both have decided to give it one more go. 

This constituency was a key indicator of the national trend last time with Fine Gael, the Labour Party and independents soaring ahead while Fianna Fáil’s vote collapsed.

And it could well follow the national opinion polls again with the coalition parties likely to struggle to hold onto three seats.

Durkan topped the poll in 2011 – the first time he did so in his 30 years as a TD.

He manged to bring in his running mate Anthony Lawlor in what a remarkable result for Fine Gael.

The duo have a fighting chance of being returned but they will need to put up some fight.

The main challenge is coming from Fianna Fáil’s James Lawless. The Sallins-based councillor is a relatively new face, having only been elected to Kildare county Council for the first time in 2014.

As a former Minister for State Stagg has a strong personal vote but will be concerned that unless Labour can regain a few percentage points during the election campaign he may be in trouble.

His party managed just 10pc in the local elections in Kildare but ultimately Stagg should hold on.

As it stands the safest seat in the constituency probably belongs to a TD who knows the feeling of losing your seat.

As an independent in the current Dáil Catherine Murphy blazed a trial with her investigations into the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Her persistence and Dáil statements forced the Government to set up the troubled Commission of Investigation into transactions at IBRC, including the sale of contracting firm Siteserv to a company owned by businessman Denis O’Brien.

Last year she helped found and became a co-leader of the Social Democrats, placing herself in a position where she may be able to enter a coalition after the election.

This is one constituency where Sinn Féin has not made significant inroads. They scored 10pc in the local elections, far behind their national standing, which will make the campaign difficult for Reada Cronin.

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