Sunday 20 May 2018

Dublin South-Central

Fine Gael (1), Sinn Fein (1), United Left Alliance (1), Labour (1).

An intriguing battle between two left-wing candidates is the highlight of the otherwise seemingly straightforward Dublin South Central constituency.

Labelled one of the most left-wing constituencies in the country, none of the three mainstream parties have opted to run more than one candidate.

Joan Collins of the United left Alliance (ULA) is facing a strong challenge to her seat from Brid Smith,  a Dublin City councillor and member of the Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (AAA/PBP).

Collins, who infamously launched a verbal attack on former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, had previously been associated with a number of other left-wing TDs but parted company following disagreements.

Smith is popular locally and has been a prominent anti-water charges campaigner, similar to Collins.

While the prospect of both female politicians taking a seat cannot be ruled out, there are question marks over whether there is enough left wing support for both candidates.

One politician certain to be returned is Sinn Féin’s social protection spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

The question will be whether he has the capacity to also bring in his running mate, councillor Máire Devine.

In August 2014, Devine found herself at the centre of an internal party row as both she and her colleague Cathal King fought over who should represent Sinn Fein in the by-election in Dublin South West.

King was put forward but was defeated by prominent left wing TD Paul Murphy. The decision now to run Devine in Dublin South Central, and not her base in Dublin South West, represents a gamble by the party.

Labour TD Eric Byrne will be relieved that his former constituency and Dáil colleague Michael Conaghan has decided not to run, saying that he felt unhappy during his time as a backbencher.

Nonetheless, Byrne faces a serious fight to hold onto his seat, especially if the tide remains out for Labour.

His namesake, Catherine Byrne, will comfortably take a seat here. As a TD, she wears her heart on her sleeve and has expressed strong views on issues such as the Eighth Amendment, which she wants to see repealed.

The one to watch in Dublin South Central is Fianna Fail councillor Catherine Ardagh. She was selected to run for Fianna Fáil in highly contentious fashion, after the party issued a diktat to the selection convention which stated that a female must be chosen.

As the only female in the race, she was put forward by default in a move that supporters of her council and party colleague Daithí de Róiste.

Michael Gargan of Renua, Oisín Ó hAlmhain of the Green Party and independent candidates Paul Hand and Richard Murray complete the field

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