Thursday 23 November 2017

Dublin Fingal

Independent (1), Fianna Fail (1), Fine Gael (1), Labour (1), Sinn Fein (1).

One of the questions emanating from the contest in Dublin Fingal is not whether Clare Daly will be elected, but how large will her surplus be?

The firebrand politician is widely expected to top the poll, leaving her rivals to fight over four remaining seats.

Daly, whose base centres around Swords, has entered a vote pact with councillor Barry Martin, who has recently left the People Before Profit Alliance.

The prospect of Daily bringing in her running mate is unlikely but it illustrates how confident her team is of her is of topping the polling.

The Labour Party knows it is facing into a very difficult election, one which will see it haemorrhage seats across the country. However, the trend is likely to be bucked in this constituency through sitting TD Brendan Ryan.

Labour strategists see the quietly spoken TD as one of the party’s so-called ‘bankers’ in this campaign.

The same view is adopted in Fianna Fáil in relation to its candidate Darragh O’Brien.

The senator lost his seat in 2011 as part of the party’s electoral meltdown.

With Fianna Fáil desperate to make gains in the capital, expectations are high for O’Brien.

Therefore, he is unlikely to have been best pleased with the decision by the party’s National Constituencies Committee (NCC) to add Lorraine Clifford-Lee to the ticket.

Clifford-Lee is part of the slowly emerging liberal wing of the party and has called for a repeal of Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which gives equal status to the rights of the mother and the unborn.

She is also likely to receive the nod for the Séanad by party leader Michéal Martin if, as expected, she fails to take a seat this time round.

Sinn Féin has a strong chance of landing one of the five seats on offer here.

Candidate Louise O’Reilly, a trade union organiser, is often trotted out on radio to bat for the party.

But she recently found herself embroiled in controversy after refusing to condemn the killing of garda Jerry McCabe by Provo Pearse McAuley.

Asked by broadcaster Claire Byrne if she thought Garda McCabe’s death was wrong, O’Reilly replied: “I don’t think it’s that simple”.

She later tweeted and condemned the killing.

Dublin Fingal presents an intriguing electoral test for Fine Gael and its two sitting TDs James Reilly and Alan Farrell.

Both deputies will run completely separate campaigns and do not share a particularly close bond.

Reilly, the Children’s Minister and Fine Gael’s deputy, has endured a turbulent time in Leinster House.

He caused upheaval in Fine Gael before Christmas after calling for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment before the party had formulated its approach on the issue.

In his interview with the Sunday Independent, Reilly also admitted he considered quitting politics after being sacked as Health Minister by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Many Fine Gael figures believe he could be dropped from Cabinet after the election and that his position as deputy leader is also at risk.

But others within the party, including a number of ministers, admire his courage and conviction. He has undergone somewhat of a resurgence since being moved to the Department of Children and has championed issues such as the fight against tobacco. He also played an essential role in the Yes Campaign of the Marriage Equality referendum.

Reilly is a shrewd political operator and should not be written off here whatsoever.

Whether Fine Gael can hold onto two seats, however, is far from clear. Reilly’s running mate Alan Farrell has struggled to build up his profile and is likely to be in a dogfight for one of the final seats.

But this is one of those constituencies where Fine Gael could produce seats once again if picking up momentum in the final stages of the campaign.

A strong swing to the left and independent candidates will benefit Terry Kelleher, who is standing for the Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (AAA/PBP).

But with stronger left wing voices in Clare Daly and Louise O’Reilly, Kelleher is likely to be squeezed.

Completing the field is Green Party candidate Joe O’Brien, Renua’s Gerry Molly and independents Roslyn Fuller and Tony Murphy, who is aligned to the Shane Ross led Independent alliance.

Online Editors

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