Friday 25 May 2018

Dublin West

Fine Gael (1), Sinn Fein (1), Labour (1), Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit (1).

There will be no shortage of talking points or drama once the ballot boxes are opened for the Dublin West constituency.

A compelling battle is on the cards in a constituency where voters have already gone to the polls on three occasions in the past five years.

The fact that there is a doubt hanging over the prospect of Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton holding her seat is illustrative of the dogfight that will ensue.

It is, without doubt, politics at its best.

Burton will need to rely on her high profile and personal vote if she is to survive. The Social Protection Minister knows that the challenge of avoiding an electoral meltdown for her wider party is also a responsibility that falls on her shoulders.

She is likely to focus heavily on securing votes around the Navan Road, where she lives with her husband Pat Carroll.

A chunk of the area was moved into Dublin West following the boundary changes - a decision that will benefit Burton.

The feat of topping the poll in 2011 is likely to be passed to Burton’s Cabinet colleague Leo Varadkar.

Fine Gael’s star performer has struggled since being handed the role of Health Minister and should be wary of attempts by the Opposition to make the trolley crisis a major election issue.

But Varadkar is a potential future Taoiseach and is poised to top the poll in this four seat constituency, which also encompasses Blanchardstown, Mulhuddart and Castleknock.

Fine Gael correctly decided on a two candidate strategy here, with senator Catherine Noone selected as Varadkar’s running mate.

With Varadkar’s vote expected to include a surplus, the prospect of Varadkar bringing in Noone can't be ruled out.

The election is likely to see Sinn Féin break through in many constituencies in the capital, including Dublin West.

The party’s candidate Paul Donnelly was defeated in the 2014 by-election, which was called following the decision by Independent TD Patrick Nulty to resign his Dáil seat.

Donnelly has a strong local organisation behind him and topped the poll in his local ward during elections on the same day.

The only concern for both Donnelly and Coppinger is that they are targeting the same vote pool around the working class area of Mulhuddart.

Also vying for support here is councillor David McGuinness, the former Fianna Fáil politician who was unveiled as a candidate for the Shane Ross-led Independent Alliance.

McGuinness quit Fianna Fáil in controversial fashion after being defeated in the selection convention by his younger council colleague Jack Chambers.

Chambers is being championed by party leader Michéal Martin and is arguably the dark horse of the contest. Fianna Fáil is desperate to regain the seat previously held by the late finance minister Brian Lenihan.

Beyond Varadkar, the outcome in Dublin West is extremely difficult to call and transfers will prove critical.

One would expect that with Socialist TD Joe Higgins retiring, much of his support base will be swept up by Coppinger.

But a victory in a by-election should not give the impression that Coppinger’s seat is safe, particularly if she once again finishes behind Donnelly on first preferences.

Elsewhere, the Green Party’s candidate Roderic O’Gorman is likely to fare well and his transfers could prove crucial.

Independent candidates Geoff Boyle, TJ Clare and Lorna Nolan complete the field.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News