Thursday 29 September 2016

The crucial battlegrounds for Fine Gael

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

Michelle Mulherin. Photo: Tom Burke
Michelle Mulherin. Photo: Tom Burke

In the two Limerick constituencies Fine Gael must hold its second seat. In Limerick city, Kieran O'Donnell looks vulnerable and transfers from Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who will have a huge vote, must be consolidated. In the county, councillor Tom Neville has a big fight on to retain the seat held by his father, Dan, since 1997.

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In the new five-seat Kerry, Fine Gael must hold two seats. Jimmy Deenihan is well dug in to the north of the constituency. The ever-industrious Brendan Griffin has been working hard trying to stretch himself beyond his mid-Kerry base in Castlemaine. Former Tralee Mayor Grace O'Donnell has been added. Like all the parties, it is hard to make terms with playing the "full-pitch" in Kerry.

It's the same story in the new unitary five-seat Tipperary. Noel Coonan, as always, is struggling to travel out of his limited base around Roscrea. He will need all his battling powers to join Tom Hayes, who is well placed to straddle the borders of the old north and south constituencies.

Enda Kenny's own Mayo heartland is an emblematic battle. They need to keep three out of four if Kenny has a chance of returning to Government Buildings. Ballina's Michelle Mulherin (pictured left) is in a scrap for the last seat. The big question is how much support she gets from the 'stars' Kenny and Michael Ring.

In the 2002 meltdown, there were huge losses in Dublin.

In the new five-seat Fingal, deputy leader Dr James Reilly is in a big battle. Colleague Alan Farrell faces even greater difficulty. Some party stalwarts think one TD here would be a result.

Paschal Donohoe, one of the Cabinet stars, is in huge difficulty in slimmed-down Dublin Central.

In the new Dublin Rathdown, truncated from the old Dublin South, former Justice Minister Alan Shatter will slug it out with councillor Josepha Madigan.

Galway West is a slow and grim struggle for all. The retirement of Brian Walsh eases the pressure. But candidates Seán Kyne and new arrival from Mayo John O'Mahony have big battles ahead. Former Galway mayor, Senator Hildegarde Naughton, is needed to catch the city vote.

Irish Independent

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