Saturday 1 October 2016

Limerick City

Fine Gael (2), Fianna Fáil (1), Sinn Féin (1).

Published 18/01/2016 | 12:45

Sinn Féin can bridge a 93-year gap and return a TD for this constituency which is dominated by Limerick city.

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A win for Sinn Féin’s Cllr Maurice Quinlivan would be a big blow to Fianna Fáil stalwart, Willie O’Dea, who will be going all-out to re-assert himself as a huge national vote-getter after being down the field last time.  A bitter libel battle with Quinlivan in 2010 cost O’Dea his cabinet seat and led to the Fianna Fáil man having to fund an out-of-court settlement.

If Quinlivan, a brother of IRA man Nessan Quinlivan, does win, the other big talking point will be which of the sitting four will lose? Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan of Labour looks vulnerable but so does Fine Gael’s Kieran O’Donnell.

Limerick city and environs has not been any good to Sinn Féin since the party split in the early 1920s. The only result worth talking of was in 1957, just after the death of Seán Sabhat “of Garryowen” on the Border, when IRA activist Paddy Mulcahy polled half a quota.

Maurice Quinlivan has been working the patch since the 2004 local elections and been a councillor since 2009.  In the 2011 Dáil elections he came in fifth with almost half a quota and had a huge vote in the 2014 locals.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, aged 72 and a TD since 1981, is running again and should be a poll-topper given his reputation on managing the economy.  A big Noonan surplus would help party colleague Kieran O’Donnell, a TD since 2007 and nephew of highly regarded former minister, Tom O’Donnell.

But O’Donnell may be fighting for the last seat with Jan O’Sullivan, who was the last elected without a quota in 2011. Sinn Féin will soak up much of O’Sullivan’s vote.

Labour argue that they have held a seat here almost without a break since 1923 and O’Sullivan is the successor to the late, much-loved Jim Kemmy.  But her role as Education Minister in approving school building and renovations may be a more practical vote-getter in Limerick next time.

Newcomer Sarah Jane Hennelly for the Social Democrats and especially Cllr Cian Prendiville of the Anti Austerity Alliance may further deplete the Labour vote. Cllr Prendiville argues the anti-water charge campaign can be harnessed to good effect.

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