Thursday 22 March 2018

Dublin Bay South

Fine Gael (1), Renua (1), Labour (1), Green Party (1).

Fine Gael is effectively engaged in two campaigns in Dublin Bay South.

One is aimed at ensuring the comfortable re-election of sitting TD Eoghan Murphy.

The other objective is to unseat Renua leader Lucinda Creighton.

Creighton topped the poll following the first count in 2011, securing an impressive 19pc of the vote.

Her vote quickly earned her the prestigious role of European Affairs Minister.

But that was five years ago, when Creighton was at the heart of the Fine Gael fold and destined for a position at Cabinet.

It remains to be seen whether her decision to walk away from FIne Gael and set up Renua will impact on her support base.

WIthout doubt, the presence of Fine Gael councillor Kate O’Connell in an already crowded field will make Creighton’s job of re-election much more difficult.

O’Connell has openly allowed a narrative to develop which says she is after the Renua leader’s seat.

Her strong stance in favour of a repeal of the Eighth Amendment will hold its own appeal in the liberal, four seat constituency.

But the Creighton versus O’Connell battle is just one of several intriguing sub-plots set to unravel in Dublin Bay South.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews is continuing his political comeback on behalf of his new party, Sinn Féin.

There is no doubt Andrews, who has a strong base in the Pearse Street area, will be in contention as the latter counts take place.

But one wonders if he will ever be able to escape the controversy that he created as a result of his behaviour on social media.

After losing his Dáil seat in 2011, Andrews posted more than 300 tweets, many of which were critical of Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin.

But he also used the fake account to criticise Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

In one tweet, he referred to Mr Adams as being a member of the IRA — an accusation the Louth TD has also denied.

Andrews will be tapping to a similar local base as the independent councillor Mannix Flynn.

Flynn has been a staunch critic of Sinn Fein on Dublin City Council and last year exposed the fact that Sinn Féin and Labour had struck a secret deal to ensure both parties control the top jobs, including the mayorship and deputy mayorship.

Flynn, seen as one of Dublin’s hardest working politicians, is unlikely to feature during the business stages of the election. But his transfers could be crucial for a number of candidates.

These include Labour Party junior minister Kevin Humphreys, who is one of the most able performers in Leinster House.

Humphreys knows he has a fight on his hands - despite the decision of party stalwart and former cabinet heavyweight Ruairí Quinn to retire. But if Labour can make even modest traction in the opinion polls in the weeks ahead, Humphreys will be in a strong position to take a seat. 

The Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection will be hoping that he will benefit from a transfer pact with Fine Gael, whose sitting TD Eoghan Murphy is likely to top the poll.

While Murphy has spent much of last year locked up in the Banking Inquiry, he is well-placed to be handed a junior ministerial role if he performs well.

The dark horse in the race is undoubtedly Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. His performance in the European Elections, during which he narrowly missed out on a seat, took many by surprise.

The former minister in the Fianna Fáil/Green cabinet is still popular with voters and is capable of springing a shock once again.

Fianna Fáil insist that its candidate and party legal advisor, councillor Jim O’Callaghan, should not be ruled out. The decision to give him the role of delivering the warm-up speech at the party’s Árd Fheis is illustrative of highly regarded he is within the party.

But he faces an uphill battle, unless his party can overcome its period of stagnation.

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