Monday 23 April 2018

Deasy to top poll - but big battle in store for final seat

John Deasy speaks to Tony Rogers in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
John Deasy speaks to Tony Rogers in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
John Downing

John Downing

On their worst day in 2011, Fianna Fáil were still only 900 votes off a seat in the final count in Waterford. That alone should suggest a return this time out, but there are doubts about the party's candidate, relatively unknown first-time councillor Mary Butler.

Sinn Féin's Senator David Cullinane hopes it will be fourth time lucky for him, helped by the party's strength nationally. Recent and longer-term history suggests Labour's Ciara Conway is very vulnerable after a terrible local election in May 2014 reduced them to just one councillor.

The maverick Fine Gael TD John Deasy is expected to head the poll as he did last time. Based in Dungarvan, he has a huge personal following, building on a base started by his father Austin.

For Deasy it is mainly about fighting for Waterford's share of the development cake. "This much-talked-about recovery was slow to reach us. I'm very concerned that most jobs investment has gone to Dublin and Cork and that has to change," he said.

Independent TD John Halligan, now with Shane Ross's Independent Alliance, took the last seat in 2011 without a quota and will consolidate his position.

Some within Fianna Fáil argue that the party will struggle to get its candidate elected. Ms Butler is an enthusiastic campaigner, but her relative inexperience and not being based in the main population centre of Waterford city are disadvantages.

Renua Ireland has one of its stronger candidates here in Mailo Power, a popular Waterford hotelier. She should garner a decent vote and her transfers will be watched with interest.

Labour has frequently struggled in Waterford and though Ciara Conway, Waterford's first woman TD in almost 60 years, has impressed at Leinster House, things look bleak.

She faces a daunting task with a lot of competition from Sinn Féin, John Halligan and others, and her party's stock remains very low nationally.

The Green Party fields Grace O'Sullivan, a former crew member of the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, who campaigned impressively in the May 2014 European elections. People Before Profit will field Una Dunphy, a teacher from Tramore who is current president of Waterford Council of Trade Unions.

Fine Gael's Junior Housing Minister and former Waterford hurler Paudie Coffey has a big fight on his hands. He had a strong vote last time and took the second seat on the ninth count.

In the end it may all come down to a fight between Mr Coffey and Ms Butler, for the final seat. Much depends on the strength of the campaign put in for Coffey.

It will be tight, but Coffey should hold on.


Candidates: 4 SEATS

FG Paudie Coffey TD,

FG John Deasy TD,

LAB Ciara Conway TD,

FF Mary Butler,

SF David Cullinane,

PBPA Una Dunphy,

R Mailo Power,

IA John Halligan TD

GP Grace O’Sullivan

PREDICTION: 2 Fine Gael, 1 Sinn Féin, 1 Independent

Irish Independent

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