Monday 23 April 2018

Cork North-Central

Fianna Fail (1), Fine Gael (1), Sinn Fein (1) and AAA (1).

Few constituencies have witnessed water charge protests as large as Cork North Central over the past three years.

Major stand-offs between protestors and Irish Water contractors have occurred at multiple locations through the urban part of this sprawling constituency and even in towns along its fringes such as Watergrasshill.

Political events which attracted Government ministers, particularly over the past two years, attracted enormous protest gatherings over the issue.

One Blackpool event, attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny two years ago, required amongst the largest garda security operations witnessed in Cork since the visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite that Fine Gael junior minster Dara Murphy is expected to hold his seat, after Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher and Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien are take the first two.

There will then be a dog-fight of epic proportions for the fourth and final seat between Labour’s veteran TD and junior minister Kathleen Lynch, Anti-Austerity Alliance’s Councillor Mick Barry and Sinn Fein’s second candidate, Councillor Thomas Gould.

 Labour will be heavily dependent on a good transfer from Murphy but it remains to be seen just how many votes he will be able to offer.

They will also be praying for different fortunes than the 2014 Local Government elections when they failed to return a single councillor to Cork City Council as their vote collapsed.

In contrast, both councillors Barry and Gould can count on the prospect of heavy transfers from a number of left-wing candidates likely to exit the field as the hunt for the final seat intensifies.

Sinn Féin will have to manage its vote extremely carefully while also hoping Jonathon O’Brien has sufficient transfers for his running mate.

Councillor Barry has been very a high-profile figure in the anti-water charge protest campaign in Cork and, in 2011, was just 1700 votes behind Dara Murphy on first preferences.

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