Thursday 12 December 2019

158 seats, 40 constituencies, 500 candidates - you decide

Government Buildings, Dublin
Government Buildings, Dublin

Shane Coleman

With General Election 2016 heating up, Shane Coleman rounds up the usual suspects vying for your vote, and the unlikely lads looking to make their mark.


5 seats

Prediction: FG 2 (-1) FF 2 (+1) SF 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

The Government parties won four seats here in 2011 but they are likely to lose two of them this time around. Fine Gael will take two seats, down one from last time. Fianna Fáil's success in the by-election suggests it will take two seats - through John McGuinness and Bobby Aylward. Sinn Féin's Kathleen Funchion got 16pc of the vote in that by-election and should take a seat at the expense of Labour junior minister Ann Phelan.

Cavan Monaghan

4 seats

Prediction: FG 2 (-1) FF 1 SF 1

Fine Gael won three here in 2011 but it was a five-seater then and it will be doing well to win two seats this time - if the party doesn't, it'll be a very bad nationally for FG. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are guaranteed a seat each but a second seat looks beyond both parties.


4 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1 Ind 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

Three of the seats look tied up here. Fine Gael should hold its two seats and FF's Timmy Dooley should be safe. Labour's Michael McNamara looks unlikely to retain the seat the party won in the county for only the second time ever. That leaves a likely battle for the fourth seat between FF and two Independents - Ennis-based disability campaigner Ann Norton and GP Michael Harty, who is getting a lot of traction on rural isolation with his 'no doctor, no village' campaign. Very hard to call.

Cork East

4 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1 (+1) Lab 1 SF 0 (-1)

This one looks a real dogfight. FG will win one seat as will FF, who failed to win a seat here last time but, after that, it's anyone's guess. SF won here in 2011 but the party has been in disarray here locally and its TD Sandra McLellan has opted not to run. SF's chances have been further hit by the decision of former party councillor Kieran McCarthy to run as an Independent - he will have Cobh to himself and could cause a shock.

Labour junior minster Sean Sherlock is also under serious pressure. Private polls also suggest FG's Tom Barry is struggling and its third candidate, former Labour man, Noel McCarthy may be stronger. The presence though of one-time party stalwart Senator Paul Bradford, running for Renua, will hurt FG. Sherlock is a canny operator and may just hold on. If FG is doing well nationally, it will win two seats here. Very hard to call.

Cork North Central

4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 FF 1 SF 1 AAA-PBP 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

Three seats look tied up here. Billy Kelleher will top the poll for FF. SF TD Jonathan O'Brien is a banker and although private polls show Dara Murphy far from safe, there surely has to be a FG seat here, even though this is one of the most left-wing constituencies in the country. That leaves Labour junior minister Kathleen Lynch and Mick Barry of AAA-PBP in a battle for the final seat. On a good day for Labour, Lynch might pull it off. But it would have to be a very good day.

Cork North West

3 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1

This has never been a constituency to throw up shocks - FG and FF has always divided the spoils but maybe not this time. FF is targeting a second here with Aindrias Moynihan who got nearly 4,000 in the locals. But there's also a very strong independent in John Paul O'Shea, the mayor of Cork County, who could spring a surprise.

Cork South West

3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 (+1) Ind 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

FF had a disaster here in 2011 when a two-candidate strategy left it with no seat despite taking nearly 24pc of the vote. Bandon-based councillor Margaret Murphy-O'Mahony should rectify that for FF, in the process becoming the constituency's first female TD, but it's far from guaranteed. Labour TD Michael McCarthy is strongly tipped to lose out. FG will definitely hold one seat here but its second looks under real threat from one of two Independents, Michael Collins and former FF councillor Alan Coleman - the latter could also hit his former party's chances of taking a seat.


5 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 SF 2 Ind 1

For the first time since the 1977 election, Donegal is one constituency, replacing the two three-seaters that had existed. This is probably SF's strongest ticket and constituency in the country, so Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn will hold on. There is a guaranteed FF seat and there should be one for FG also - just about. That leaves the final seat between Independent TD Thomas Pringle, Fianna Fáil and the third SF candidate. On a very good day for FF, it could do it. But Pringle looks to have the edge.

Dublin Bay South

4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) Lab 1 (-1) Renua 1 (+1) Green 1 (+1)

A really tough one to call in the old Dublin South-East constituency. FG and Labour divided the four seats between them last time. Only FG is guaranteed a seat, probably Eoghan Murphy. Given the party's strength in the constituency, there should be a second government seat and that means Labour minister Kevin Humphreys may be okay. As should Renua leader Lucinda Creighton, though she's not safe. That leaves SF's Chris Andrews, FF's Jim O'Callaghan and Green leader Eamon Ryan battling for the final seat. Ryan might just appeal in what is one of the most affluent constituencies in the State.

Dublin Central

3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1 Lab 0 (-1)

The constituency has been seriously reduced in size and the traditional three parties did really badly here in the locals. SF's Mary Lou McDonald will top the poll, and transport minister Paschal Donohue, while not secure, should be okay. FF's Mary Fitzpatrick is up against it in a three-seater as is Labour's Joe Costello. Neither will make it, so that leaves the third seat between Independents Maureen O'Sullivan, Christy Burke and Cieran Perry.

Dublin Fingal

5 seats


FG 1 (-1) FF 1 (+1) Lab 1 SF 1 (+1) Ind 1

Three seats look nailed in the old Dublin North constituency. Clare Daly will top the poll and FF's Darragh O'Brien will take back a seat. There's also a definite FG seat, probably James Reilly. The final two seats are between Labour's Brendan Ryan; FG's Alan Farrell; a second Independent Tony Murphy and SF's Louise O'Reilly. Can both Ryan and Farrell be returned?

Dublin Mid-West

4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 (+1) SF 1 (+1) Lab 1 (-1)

The Government won all four seats here in 2011 but will be doing well to win two this time. Frances Fitzgerald and SF's Eoin O Broin are the bankers. Then it's two from Labour's Joanna Tuffy; FF's John Curran; Fine Gael's Derek Keating; Gino Kenny of AAA-PBP and former Green Paul Gogarty.

Dublin North-West

3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (+1) SF 1 Soc Dems 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-2)

The only constituency where FG failed to win a seat last time. Two seats are done deals: Roisin Shortall and SF's Dessie Ellis. The third seat is up for grabs. It's probably too big an ask for FF's Paul McAuliffe. Noel Rock is hoping to win a seat for FG for the first time in a quarter of a century. It's probably between him and Labour TD John Lyons. The addition of Glasnevin to the constituency will help FG.

Dublin Rathdown

3 seats


FG 1 (-1) Lab 1 Ind 1 (-1)

One of the most affluent constituencies in the country, it has been dramatically reduced from a five to a three-seater. Two seats look certain. Shane Ross will top the poll, followed by FG's Alan Shatter. The final seat may be a battle between FG's Josepha Madigan and Labour minister Alex White. The latter may just hang on.

Dublin South-Central

4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1 AAA-PBP 1 Lab 0 (-2)

Down a seat from 2011, this may be, along with Cork North Central, the most left-wing constituency in the country. SF's Aengus Ó Snodaigh and United Left's Joan Collins are safe. There'll be one seat for either FG or FF, probably FG's Catherine Byrne. The final seat looks a battle between Brid Smith of AAA-PBP and Labour's Eric Byrne. Byrne is a survivor but there may not be two government seats here.

Dublin South West

5 seats



(+1) FF 1 (+1) Labour 1 (-1)

Gained a seat and 27,000 voters from Rathfarnham, which should mean two TDs from this new part of the constituency. Four seats look settled: SF's Sean Crowe and AAA-PBP's Paul Murphy will be fine. Fine Gael will take one, as should FF's John Lahart. The final seat is between SF, Labour's Pamela Kearns; FG, Eamonn Maloney - who won for Labour last time but is now running as an independent - and outside bet Katherine Zappone, if she gets traction.

Dun Laoghaire

4 seats, including Ceann Comhairle automatically returned

Prediction: FG 3 (+1) Ind 1 Lab 0 (-1)

Three seats are as good as dusted here. Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett is automatically returned. Richard Boyd Barrett should top the poll and Mary Mitchell O'Connor is safe. In the absence of Eamon Gilmore, Labour looks out of it here. That leaves the final seat as a fight out between FG's Maria Bailey and FF's Mary Hanafin. Winning in what is effectively a three-seater in Dublin is a huge ask of FF.

Galway East

3 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1 Lab 0 (-1)

One of the few constituencies where there is no guaranteed winner. Down one seat and 14,000 voters to Roscommon, it's going to be a real dogfight in this constituency which stretches around over 80km north to south. There is one definite FG seat - either Ciaran Cannon or Paul Connaughton - and probably one FF seat - Anne Rabbitte might squeeze out Colm Keaveney for that.

Then the final seat is between Sean Canney, the second FG candidate and the second FF candidate. Canney is being tipped by many on back of a strong 2014 local election performance but he polled the same in 2009 and it didn't translate in the subsequent general election. Can he win votes beyond his Tuam base, where Keaveney is also strong?

Galway West

5 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1

Ind 2 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

Government parties won three out of five here last time - not this time. There's one FG seat, probably Sean Kyne, while Éamon Ó Cuív is safe, as presumably is Independent Noel Grealish. All three are from outside the city, so Independent Catherine Connolly's day might finally come at the expense of Labour. The fifth seat looks a battle between one of the two FG TDs, SF and FF. FG might just squeak it.


5 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1 (+1) SF 1 Ind 1 (-1) Lab 0 (-1)

Kerry is one constituency for the first time since 1933 (when FF won five out of seven). Four seats look reasonably predictable. Michael Healy-Rae, Martin Ferris, Jimmy Deenihan and John Brassil should all take seats, possibly in that order. Labour's Arthur Spring may not make it, leaving the final seat between Independent Tom Fleming and FG's Brendan Griffin. It could go either way.

Kildare North

4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 (+1) SD 1 (+1) Lab 1 Ind 0 (-1)

Catherine Murphy will top the poll for the Soc Dems, while Emmet Stagg should be okay, though it's not certain. That leaves one seat each for FF and FG. Both parties have two candidates and the real battle will be intra-party.

Kildare South

3 seats

Predicton: FG 2 (+1) FF 1 Lab 0 (-1)

This is all about the battle for Newbridge and the two Fionas. Martin Heydon of FG and FF's Seán Ó Fearghaíl should be okay but Labour's seat looks vulnerable with the retirement of Jack Wall. His son Mark could be in difficulty. FF's Fiona O'Loughlin and FG's Fiona McLoughlin Healy are both formidable operators with their base in Newbridge. Whoever is ahead between the two - and it's 50-50 right now - may just edge out Wall.


3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 FF 1 SF 1

The most predictable constituency in the country with the three sitting TDs (from the old Laois-Offaly constituency) Charlie Flanagan, Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley all holding their seats.

Limerick County

3 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1

On the face of it, this one looks pretty predictable too. It used to be a FF stronghold but FG is now top dog. It should hold its two seats. Niall Collins is a banker for FF. If there is to be a surprise, keep an eye on Independent Emmett O'Brien.


4 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 Lab 1 Ind 1 (+1)

This one is all about the battle for Athlone. There's one certain FG seat, probably James Bannon in Longford and FF's Robert Troy will be okay. There's talk of Willie Penrose being under pressure, but it's hard to see him not holding on. That leaves the fourth seat between the three Athlone candidates: FG's Gabrielle McFadden, SF and Independent Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, who fell short in 2011 and the 2014 by-election. It might just be third time lucky for Boxer.

Meath East

3 seats

Prediction: FG 2 FF 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1)

The Government parties hoovered up all three seats here last time but Labour's Dominic Hannigan is likely to lose out to FF's Thomas Byrne. SF's Darren O'Rourke can't be discounted here but the FG ticket of Helen McEntee and Regina Doherty looks too strong.

Meath West

3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 (-1) FF 1 (+1) SF 1

This one seems straightforward. FG minister Damien English and SF's Peadar Tóibín look safe but FG's Ray Butler looks poised to lose out to Shane Cassells, as FF rebuilds in its former heartland.


3 seats

Prediction: FG 1 FF 1 Renua 1

Very hard one to call. Barry Cowen is safe for FF. There should be an FG seat despite an awful day for the party here in the locals. The third seat is between Independent John Foley, Renua's John Leahy, FF and SF. Could go anywhere.


3 seats


FG 1 (-1) Ind 2 (+1)

Big change in this constituency with south-Leitrim being replaced by 14,000 voters from east Galway, including Ballinasloe. FF is in disarray here and looks unlikely to win a seat. Two Independents look likely to be returned - Denis Naughten (ex-FG) and by-election winner Michael Fitzmaurice. FG's Maura Hopkins should take the third seat, unless FF can pull a rabbit out of the hat to shake up the ticket.


4 seats


FG 2

FF 1 (+1)

SF 1

This constituency, which has gained a seat, now spans four counties with 9,000 voters from West Cavan and another 6,000 from south Donegal. It looks like FG, FF and SF will each take one seat and then there's a dog fight for the fourth involving FG, FF, SF and an Independent. Anyone's call. FG needs to be taking two seats here but may not.


4 seats


FG 2

SF 1 (+1)

Ind 1

Lab 0 (-1)

Three seats look settled here. FG's John Deasy and Independent John Halligan will be fine and David Cullinane should make it at the fourth time of asking for SF. Labour's Ciara Conway looks to be in trouble. That leaves the final seat looks a battle between junior minster Paudie Coffey and FF's Mary Butler, who are both from Portlaw. FF has high hopes for Butler but will she get traction in Waterford city?


5 seats

Prediction: FG 1 FF 2 Lab 1 Ind 1

This one might come down to the battle for Gorey. Mick Wallace will top the poll while FF's James Browne and chief whip Paul Kehoe should win through. As should public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin.

SF has high hopes here but Johnny Mythen might be squeezed in his Enniscorthy base by Browne and Kehoe.

This might come down to who emerges stronger from Gorey - FF's Malcolm Byrne or FG's Michael D'Arcy, who performed well on the Banking Inquiry.

It should be FG but the addition of a third candidate hasn't helped matters and Byrne is a good candidate. He might squeeze through.


5 seats

Prediction: FG 2 (-1) FF 1 (+1) SF 1 (+1) SD 1 (+1) Lab 0 (-1) Ind 0 (-1)

FG rising star Simon Harris, Social Democrat Stephen Donnelly and SF's John Brady should fill the first three places. 
FF has made a bit of a mess of its ticket but based on the locals and its national poll rating, there should still be a seat for them. Andrew Doyle of FG and Billy Timmons, now of Renua, both look vulnerable - Labour's Ann Ferris even more so.

It's two from Doyle, Timmons and FF's Pat Casey.

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