Dun Laoghaire: 'Group of death' will claim big scalps
IT'S all to play for in what has been dubbed the 2011 General Election "group of death".
School principal Mary Mitchell-O'Connor is canvassing feverishly in an effort to pull off a shock victory for Fine Gael in one of the most keenly contested constituencies in the country.
Dun Laoghaire is set to usher in big name casualties with Fianna Fail ministers Mary Hanafin and Barry Andrews in danger and former Green junior minister Ciaran Cuffe already written off.
And with major momentum now behind Fine Gael's bid to secure an overall majority, Ms Mitchell-O'Connor could scoop a second seat alongside Sean Barrett and upset Labour leader Eamon Gilmore's plans to capture two seats.
She also faces a tough battle with the darling of the left -- Richard Boyd-Barrett -- in her fight for the final seat.
But Ms Mitchell-O'Connor -- a PD-turned-FG councillor -- believes her party's recent poll surge has put a second seat within her grasp.
The constituency is moving from a five-seater to a four-seater, with all election contenders chasing the vulnerable Fianna Fail and Green Party seats.
"I think we are much more welcome and think we are probably pushing an open door in one way. We would see that. I think there is a huge support for Fine Gael," the principal of the Harold School in Glasthule told the Irish Independent.
"I'm not promising anything else. I'm not a parish-pump politician. I am not promising anything like that," she says.
"The candidate in Kerry, the candidate in West Galway are saying the exact same thing. We are all on message and nobody is going off."
In a constituency where Mr Gilmore is expected to command a massive first preference vote, leaving a hefty surplus to fall to his running mate Ivana Bacik, Fine Gael have to navigate a careful vote management strategy.
If Mr Barrett and Ms Mitchell-O'Connor can manage their first preference vote and transfers, they could stave off Ms Bacik and Boyd-Barrett.
To that aim, the Fine Gael duo has a strict canvassing schedule where they divide up the constituency by days and dates.
Constituency observers say the Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe won't retain his seat.
There is likely to be one Fianna Fail seat but that vote could split leaving the party with zero.
Such a scenario would clear the way for either two Fine Gael or two Labour seats or for Mr Barrett to take the final seat.
Mary Hanafin TD
Barry Andrews TD
Sean Barrett TD
Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Eamon Gilmore TD
Richard Boyd Barrett
LAST TIME OUT
- Mary Hanafin topped poll with 2,000 votes over the quota, and Barry Andrews took the second seat.
- Sean Barrett (FG), Eamon Gilmore (Labour) and Ciaran Cuffe also won seats, with PD Fiona O’Malley losing out.
- SEATS 4
- ELECTORATE 79,120
- VOTERS PER TD 19,780