News Politics

Thursday 18 September 2014

Ward where socialists and socialites rub shoulders

John Drennan Political Editor

Published 18/05/2014 | 17:00

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Paddy Cole and Kathleen Watkins lend their support to Fianna Fail local election candidate Frank Kennedy who was canvassing in Donnybrook yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin 17/4/2014

THERE is no shortage of fascinating local election constituencies across the country, but few will cast a more interesting light on the future of Irish politics than Pembroke South Dock.

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The ward is in the heart of the politically exotic Dublin Bay South, and has an eclectic cosmopolitan mix of millionaire, Gatsby-style socialites, social deprivation and a new Google society.

The intriguing nature of the constituency is epitomised by its current and past mix of TDs.

Chief of these is Lucinda Creighton, the Warrior Queen of the Reform Alliance who will in the next election be keeping a wary eye on the spiritual leader of the 'Frapuccino Kids', her former party colleague Eoghan Murphy.

Dublin Bay South is one of those atypical constituencies in the capital which has a Labour tag team of that eternal Minister Ruairi Quinn and Kevin Humphreys.

Its reputation as a constituency that doesn't just merely select TDs, but, decides the nation's destiny, is epitomised by its status as the former home of Garret FitzGerald and the ongoing spectacular feud between Michael McDowell and John Gormley.

Though council elections offer us humbler fare; the current mix of candidates live up to the constituency's exotic past and offer us key indicators to its future.

Few have moulded a more dramatic career out of such slim pickings as Chris Andrews.

The last politically active scion of the Andrews dynasty had a farcical falling-out with Fianna Fail over a Twitter war that no one expected would lead to Chris being a Sinn Fein celebrity capture.

Gerry does not stop around so often for the photos these days but the talk in Pembroke is that Andrews is poised to top the poll.

Should Andrews retrieve the SF position in the wake of the chasing out of the ward they experienced after the furore over the murder of Joseph Rafferty, all things are possible.

The performance of the Green candidate Claire Byrne in John Gormley's old stomping ground will also provide us with an indicator of whether the public have forgiven the Greens for that astonishing BIFFO interlude.

Ms Byrne certainly enjoys impeccably Green credentials, courtesy of her work as an Environmental Education Specialist.

Ms Byrne also works for The Body & Soul Festival as its sustainability manager and with an events collective Happenings.ie, producing pop-up cultural events across the city.

God, but you would almost miss the Greens.

The fate of artist Mannix Flynn will bring some realpolitik to the question of whether a distracted country really will go Independent. The initial election of Flynn might have resembled a frolic for some, but Flynn comes before the public anchored by a track record as an innovative reforming councillor.

Much interest will also follow the support for the Labour candidate James Humphreys, whose father, Kevin Humphreys, carved out a Dail seat in the working-class parts of the constituency Ruairi Quinn doesn't reach.

Having survived Fianna Fail and much intimidation from our then not exactly 'reformed' Provo friends, the fate of Humphreys will tell us much about Labour in the city.

How the feisty Fianna Fail candidate Lorraine Clifford fares will also provide us with more than a few pointers to the future.

Once there was Charlie's Angels, but, Fianna Fail these days, or at least the lamp-posts, are full of Micheal's angels.

Though the Fianna Fail JFK lookalike Frank Kennedy is tipped to win, Clifford, a solicitor, could pull off a surprise.

Within Fine Gael the status of Pembroke as a less than ordinary constituency was epitomised by the scenario where the humble FG councillor Kieran Binchy secured the former Taoiseach John Bruton as a speaker at a party event.

What Bruton made of Kieran's views on such delights as the need for a "three-pronged approach to dog-fouling": education, enforcement and cleaning, have not been recorded for posterity.

The former Taoiseach did, however, note that "councillors like Kieran, who take the job seriously and are dedicated to better politics and to bringing the council closer to the people, are what Dublin needs today".

Mr Binchy is not the only Fine Gael council candidate who has friends in high places for Linda O'Shea Farren, the former adviser to Nora Owen, has swapped socialising with the Clintons to move into the city councillor's humbler world of dog-fouling and cycle lanes.

While the night Ms Farren held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on Raglan Road will never be forgotten, gleeful sources within the ward claim Ms Farren is facing serious competition for the constituency's "PD socialite vote''.

The source of such distemper is the new Fine Gael council candidate Nadine Meisonnave who is making serious waves in Pembroke South.

True to the cosmopolitan nature of the constituency, the businesswoman who describes herself as a "committed Dub'' is originally from Russian and Estonian stock.

As one surveys Nadine and the rest of the chaotic mix of candidates all one can say is we have moved on a long way from the days of Bertie in an anorak and the Drumcondra mafia.

Sunday Independent

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