Thursday 29 September 2016

Limerick

Fine Gael (2), and Fianna Fail (1).

Published 18/01/2016 | 13:44

FOR decades this constituency was cast as the most predictable in Ireland. But a surprise win by the Progressive Democrats back in 1987 showed that even here political change was possible.

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Yet the constituency has no woman candidate and has never elected a woman TD.

This time people will be looking to Independent Emmett O’Brien as the candidate with the potential to shake things up.  The former Fianna Fáil national executive member failed to get a council nomination in 2014 and later topped the poll as an Independent with 20pc of the vote.

The barrister and farmer from Pallaskenry argues that this constituency more than many others needs change. But his ability to make the transition to the Dáil election stage remains to be seen and Sinn Féin’s Séamus Browne of Abbeyfeale is also expected to put in a strong campaign.

“People are annoyed with Fine Gael over broken election promises and still very irritated with Fianna Fáil for the economic collapse. They are looking for a strong local and independent voice,” Emmett O’Brien told Independent.ie.

After the departure of one-term Progressive Democrat TD, John McCoy, in 1989  the constituency, long known as Limerick West, reverted to a pattern of two Fianna Fáil and one Fine Gael. But it was also characterised by fierce internal Fine Gael rivalry between Dan Neville of Rathkeale and Michael Finucane of Newcastlewest.

The balance has now shifted back to Fine Gael with, Patrick O’Donovan joining Neville in the Dáil last time. Next time O’Donovan will be joined by Tom Neville who is bidding to take his father’s long-time seat.

Fianna Fáil thought it best to stand only one candidate, acknowledging Fine Gael’s local supremacy for now at least.  Niall Collins has been a TD since 2007 and his party and family roots, via his two uncles, Gerard and Michael, go all the way back to 1948 when his grandfather, Jimmy, was first elected.

Former Labour Senator James Heffernan of Kilfinane came very close in February 2011 with almost 8,000 first preferences.  Next time he will fly the Social Democrat colours and promises to put in a strong campaign.

Labour and the Anti Austerity Alliance say they will field.

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