Tuesday 12 December 2017

Cork South-Central has more than its share of household names

Ciarán Lynch was chairman of the Banking Inquiry
Ciarán Lynch was chairman of the Banking Inquiry
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The sitting TDs in Cork South-Central are all household names far beyond the boundaries of the constituency.

In 2011 it was the only part of the country to return two Fianna Fáil TDs, and according to today's poll, its voters appear to believe that giving Micheál Martin and Michael McGrath a chance was the right decision.

Mr Martin, a former school teacher, was first elected to the Dáil in 1989. Over 14 years in Cabinet he served as Minister for Education (1997-2000), Minister for Health (2000-2004), Minister for Enterprise (2004-2008) and finally as Minister for Foreign Affairs until he resigned from Cabinet in 2011. His transfers brought Mr McGrath over the line for the final seat.

Mr McGrath, a father of seven, first won his way into the Dáil in 2007 and took over as finance spokesman following the death of Brian Lenihan in 2011.

His star has risen steadily since and many, including his own constituents, now tip him to be the next leader of Fianna Fáil.

Across on the Government bench, Cork South-Central has three representatives.

The most high-profile is Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who has been in the Dáil since October 1998 when he took the seat held by his late father.

He was tasked with overseeing the compilation of Fine Gael's manifesto for this election and is one of the three names - along with Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald - who are consistently quoted as frontrunners for the leadership of Fine Gael whenever Enda Kenny steps aside.

According to the Millward Brown poll for the Irish Independent, his seat is safe - but many within the party will be disappointed that he will not have enough support to help colleague Jerry Buttimer into the reckoning.

Mr Buttimer was a first-time deputy, but stood out as the chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee that oversaw the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013, and he was to the forefront of Fine Gael's campaign on marriage equality.

And the Labour Party's Ciarán Lynch can claim that he has done the State some service with his work on the Banking Inquiry - even if voters don't thank him for it.

There's no doubting that Cork South-Central has more than its fair share of famous names.

Irish Independent

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