Friday 23 February 2018

Dublin Central

Sinn Fein (1), Fine Gael (1), Independent (1).

It is ironic that one of the few candidates tipped to succeed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach could become the most significant casualty of the General Election.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe knows well that his political career is hanging in the balance as he desperately tries to hold on to his seat in Dublin Central.

The three seat constituency produced two Government TDs in 2011, however, the chance of such a scenario materialising again in the spring is close to nil.

The fate of Mr Donohoe is likely to rest on whether he can finish ahead of his coalition, Labour Party TD Joe Costello.

Mr Costello’s profile has diminished somewhat since he was sacked by Tanaiste Joan Burton as junior Foreign Affairs Minister. He could also suffer dearly as a result of his party languishing in the opinion polls.

Nonetheless, Mr Costello’s work ethic sets him apart from many of his rivals in the constituency which is the former stronghold of ex-Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern.

The prospect of Fianna Fáil winning a seat here is a long shot. The party has selected former councillor Mary Fitzpatrick as its sole candidate. Many feel that this is a case of last chance saloon for Ms Fitzpatrick, who was unsuccessful in the European Elections.

One candidate who is all but certain to retain her seat is Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

While her political judgement has been questioned in light of her unwavering loyalty towards Gerry Adams, there is no doubt Ms McDonald is Sinn Féin’s leader in waiting.

The party opted against installing a running mate - leaving Ms McDonald in contention to top the poll.

Dublin Central voters have often turned to Independent candidates - and there is no reason why 2016 will be any different.

Sitting TD Maureen O’Sullivan, who was closely aligned to the late Tony Gregory, will be in contention again this time round.

But there is a serious risk that a crowded field of independents and left wing candidates could cause trouble for the quietly spoken deputy.

Independent councillors Cieran Perry and Christy Burke have both thrown their hats in the ring and are likely to run well-organised campaigns.

Mr Burke’s profile has soared as a result of his successful tenure as Dublin’s Lord Mayor.

Mr Perry has the backing of left wing TDs Paul Murphy and Joan Collins and topped the poll in his Cabra ward in the local elections.

The Social Democrats are also fielding councillor Gary Gannon. The inner city native has impressed since being elected to DUblin City Council in 2014.

Councillor Eilis Ryan, who recently joined the Worker’s Party, Diana O’Dwyer of AAA/PBP, Ian Noel Smyth of the Green Party, independent candidate Andrew Kelly and Cormac McKay of Direct Democracy Ireland complete the field.

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