Thursday 18 January 2018

Battle of the transfers will decide outcome of election's 'Group of Death'

Dublin Bay North candidate Deirdre Heney. Picture: Arthur Carron
Dublin Bay North candidate Deirdre Heney. Picture: Arthur Carron
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The five politicians who manage to secure a seat in this sprawling new constituency will do so only after surviving the most gruelling of electoral contests.

With some 20 candidates on the ticket, including six sitting Oireachtas members and a former minister, Dublin Bay North has been called the 'Group of Death'.

One of the many intriguing sub-plots that has unravelled in recent months surrounds the battle within Fianna Fáil.

Just months after Senator Averil Power quit the party, her former colleague Deirdre Heney secured her place on the ticket after defeating former minister Sean Haughey at the selection convention.

But Heney's jubilation was cut short just days later - when party headquarters opted to add the son of the late former Taoiseach.

The decision to add Haughey incensed Heney, and she admits the pair are running completely separate campaigns.

"It's absolutely crucial that I finish ahead but I'm confident that can happen. The response I'm getting on the doors is really encouraging," she said.

Much focus will be on the performance of Power, running as an independent after quitting the party over its lacklustre role in the Marriage Equality referendum.

She will rely heavily on transfers to get elected, but her prospects should not be discounted.

Fine Gael took the bold decision to run three candidates here after the shock defeat of Jobs Minister Richard Bruton at the party's selection convention in Clontarf Castle in April.

Bruton was added to the ticket immediately after delegates selected councillor Naoise O'Muirí and party activist Stephanie Regan.

Despite the embarrassing result, Fine Gael strategists are confident Bruton will go close to topping the poll. Meanwhile, the Labour Party's Áodhán Ó Riordáin has seen his profile grow significantly after being appointed as Drugs and Equality Minister and he will benefit from the decision by his Dáil colleague Sean Kenny to step down.

One would assume that there is enough Labour support in the constituency to ensure Ó Riordáin goes close. However, there is the real prospect that he could become one of the most significant casualties of the election.

Another TD who is vulnerable here is Terence Flanagan, who has worked hard alongside Lucinda Creighton to build up the newly-formed Renua party.

At least one independent candidate is likely to be elected in Dublin Bay North. Prominent Dáil deputy Finian McGrath has joined forces with the Independent Alliance and will comfortably hold onto his seat.

Former Labour-turned independent TD Tommy Broughan will also be in the hunt for a seat.

Sinn Féin is well-placed to take a seat through either councillor Michéal MacDonncha or Denise Mitchell, neither of whom have high profiles.

And the Social Democrats are putting forward the highly able councillor Cian O'Callaghan.

The votes secured by left wing candidates Michael O'Brien John Lyons, as well as independent councillor Jimmy Guerin, could prove significant when converted into transfers.

Prediction: FG, IND, FF, SF, IND

Dublin Bay North

Candidates:5 seats

FG Richard Bruton TD, FG Naoise O Muiri, FG Stephanie Regan, LAB Aodhan O Riordain TD, FF Sean Haughey, FF Deirdre Heney, SF Micheal MacDonncha, SF Denise Mitchell, AAA Michael O'Brien, PBPA John Lyons, R Terence Flanagan TD, SD Cian O'Callaghan, IA Finian McGrath TD, GP Donna Cooney, IND Tommy Broughan TD, IND Averil Power, IND Jimmy Guerin, IND Paul Clarke, IND Damien O'Neill, IND Proinsias Ó Conaráin

Irish Independent

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