Sunday 18 March 2018

Cork South-Central

Fianna Fail (2) and Fine Gael (2).

Cork South Central, in political terms, is the stomping ground of the ‘big beasts’.

This constituency is home to Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, his finance spokesman, Michael McGrath as well as Agriculture Minister and future Fine Gael leadership hopeful, Simon Coveney.

As if that wasn’t enough it is also home to Oireachtas banking inquiry chairman, Ciaran Lynch.

And this election, the constituency will drop from five to four seats.

All of which means that key issues in Cork South Central tend to attract a lot of heavyweight attention ranging from the €70m redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh, the €70m Cork Convention Centre, the €45m One Albert Quay complex, the expansion of Ringaskiddy Deepwater Port, the revamp of Irish Independent Park not to mention the €60m proposed Cork flood protection scheme.

Cork North Central may boast the Apple HQ but south of the River Lee lies one of the biggest concentrations of industry and employment in Ireland.

On the doorsteps in Cork South Central, the big issues will be development, employment and housing.

The expectation is   that Simon Coveney, Michael Martin and Michael McGrath will be re-elected. Local pundits are suggesting that McGrath, who delivered an astonishingly strong vote in all the circumstances in 2011, might just out-poll his party leader.

Coveney isn’t just a senior Cabinet minister and a potential future leader of Fine Gael, he is also an assiduous constituency worker so the key question will be how the party manages its vote to assist his running mate, Jerry Buttimer.

Buoyed by the reaction to his high-profile role in the 2015 Marriage Equality campaign, Buttimer may surprise a few with the strength of his cross-party appeal.

But left-wing parties have targeted the fourth and final seat.

Labour’s Ciaran Lynch is cursed not only by the shrinkage of the constituency but by a strong challenge from Sinn Fein, People Before Profit and a number of independents active in the anti-water charge protest movement.

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