SF's Andrews set for comeback, as Fine Gael targets two seats
Published 19/02/2016 | 02:30
Fine Gael is effectively engaged in two campaigns in Dublin Bay South. One is aimed at ensuring the comfortable re-election of sitting TD Eoghan Murphy.
The other is to unseat Renua leader Lucinda Creighton.
And based on the findings of today's opinion poll, the Fine Gael master plan is working.
With just a week until polling, Murphy's running mate Kate O'Connell is firmly on the hunt for the fourth seat. In a remarkable finding, the high-profile councillor is the most transfer-friendly in the field and could potentially unseat the former minister.
Any such scenario will raise huge question marks over the future of the Renua party itself.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms O'Connell lashed out at Ms Creighton over her party's proposal to introduce a 23pc flat rate on all incomes.
"It's one of the things coming up constantly on the doors - people think it is ridiculous," Ms O'Connell said.
It is just one of a number of issues which the two female politicians disagree on.
Another example is the Eighth Amendment, which Ms O'Connell wants repealed.
Ms Creighton topped the poll following the first count in 2011, securing an impressive 19pc of the vote.
Her vote quickly earned her the prestigious role of European Affairs Minister.
But that was five years ago, when Ms Creighton was at the heart of the Fine Gael fold and destined for a position at Cabinet.
It appears that her decision to walk away after she decided to vote against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill and set up Renua has significantly damaged her support base.
But only a fool would firmly rule out Ms Creighton in a constituency that is one of the most competitive in the country.
Based on our findings, Eoghan Murphy - who spent the last year serving on the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry -will top the poll and could deliver a small surplus. Mr Murphy is one of a number of young Fine Gael politicians who will be considered for a junior ministry position. But the Creighton versus O'Connell battle is just one of several intriguing sub-plots set to unravel in Dublin Bay South.
Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews is continuing his political comeback on behalf of his new party Sinn Féin.
And our poll suggests that he will secure a seat behind Fine Gael's Murphy.
This is despite a series of controversies following Andrews since he left the Fianna Fáil fold.
This week, he was branded a "liar" and a "hypocrite" by the family of Joseph Rafferty, who was murdered by a Provisional IRA member in 2005.
Andrews has described the claims as politically motivated.
In a huge relief to the Labour Party, junior minister Kevin Humphreys is well-placed to take a seat.
While he is neck-and-neck with Creighton in terms of first preferences, Humphreys is more transfer friendly.
He will pick up second and third preferences from smaller candidates such as AAA/PBP candidate Annette Mooney, the Social Democrats' Glenna Lynch and Independent councillor Mannix Flynn.
The surprise finding is the poor performance of former Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, whose Dáil comeback looks unlikely to materialise.
But the battle for the final seat will be between O'Connell, Creighton and Fianna Fáil councillor Jim O'Callaghan,
PREDICTION: FG 2, SF 1 LAB 1
Dublin Bay South
FG Eoghan Murphy TD, FG Kate O'Connell, LAB Kevin Humphreys TD, FF Jim O'Callaghan, SF Chris Andrews, PBP Annette Mooney, R Lucinda Creighton TD, SD Glenna Lynch, GP Eamon Ryan, IND Gerard Mannix Flynn, IND William D.J. Gorman, IND Alan MacStiofan, IND John Dominic Keigher, IND Eoin Tierney