Dublin South-Central: Labour aiming to double up but FG risks split vote
Published 01/02/2011 | 05:00
HENRY Upton was just 19 when his father, the late Labour TD Pat Upton, died of a heart attack. His aunt Mary retained the seat in the subsequent by-election, and he is now running for the Dail in her place. But it is far from his first campaign in Dublin South Central.
"I got politically active when I was 17 in the 1997 General Election, when things weren't great for the party after the major mistake of going into government with Fianna Fail in 1992," he said.
Mr Upton (now 31) was director of elections for his aunt in the 2007 campaign and is comfortable dealing with the charge of nepotism.
"People who bring it up are unlikely to vote for you anyway. And the other day, a fellow said to me 'I voted for Pat, I voted for Mary and I'll vote for you'. It's two sides of the coin," he said.
A loan applications officer with the ASTI credit union in Dublin, he said the biggest issue in the constituency was "jobs, jobs, jobs".
There is significant poverty in the constituency, which has a high number of families headed by single mothers (38.1pc compared to the national average of 19.7pc).
One of Mr Upton's "thinking outside the box" ideas to boost spending was to call for coin-counting mach-ines to be made available free of charge in the banks (there is normally a 12pc commission).
"If people got €50 and spent it in the local shop, it would do a lot of good for local businesses," he said.
Labour's Cllr Eric Byrne, who has been trying to get back into the Dail since 1997, is tipped to win back his seat this time.
But while Labour is looking at winning two seats, Fine Gael is not optimistic of doing the same.
Its sitting TD, Catherine Byrne, has been busy with medical cards and health-related issues, but is known to be unhappy with her party's decision to run two other candidates alongside her and risk splitting the party vote.
Sinn Fein's vocal TD Aengus O'Snodaigh is seen as a safe bet.
The pressure is on FF, which has already conceded one seat following the retirement through illness of Sean Ardagh.
Its only candidate is barrister Michael Mulcahy. He needs to ensure that he gets a big first preference vote to keep his seat, given that FF will be "transfer toxic" in this election.
Not to be ignored is the United Left Alliance candidate Joan Collins, a well-known community activist who achieved national fame last week when she told former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern he should be ashamed of himself.
Michael Mulcahy TD
Catherine Byrne TD, Cllr Ruairi McGinley, Cllr Colm Brophy
Aengus O Snodaigh TD
Cllr Henry Upton, Cllr Eric Byrne, Cllr Michael Conaghan
Oisin O hAlmhain
UNITED LEFT ALLIANCE
Cllr Joan Collins
Last time out in 2007
? FF comfortably held onto two seats through Sean Ardagh and Michael Mulcahy, while Catherine Byrne retained the seat previously held by Gay Mitchell. Labour’s Mary Upton also held her seat.
? Sinn Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh scraped through after being run close by Labour’s Eric Byrne.
? SEATS 5
?VOTERS PER TD 16,063