Wednesday 11 December 2019

Hanafin has a battle on her hands with Bailey

Councillor Maria Bailey speaks to Rosemary Fitzgerald as she canvasses in Blackrock yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers
Councillor Maria Bailey speaks to Rosemary Fitzgerald as she canvasses in Blackrock yesterday. Photo: Damien Eagers

Niall O'Connor

Over the past two years, the Dún Laoghaire constituency has been engrossed in a political battle centring on a high-profile former minister.

Against all the odds, Mary Hanafin has undergone a remarkable revival and manoeuvred her way firmly onto the Fianna Fáil ticket.

But Ms Hanafin's attempts at a Dáil comeback may end up being scuppered by Fine Gael.

In a constituency that has many middle-class and well-off pockets, Fine Gael is expected to perform extremely well.

Sitting TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor is set to take a seat and is potentially in line for a junior ministry if she tops the poll. But the candidate to watch is her running mate, Maria Bailey.

Ms Bailey, whose father John is driving her campaign, said she had a good relationship with Ms Hanafin, who taught her in school. "But I'm competitive and focused on passing the finishing line first," she said.

The presence of Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett transforms a highly competitive four-seat constituency into an electoral brawl. Mr Barrett's free pass to the next Dáil leaves just three seats up for grabs in a ward that stretches from North County Wicklow to Booterstown.

With Mitchell O'Connor and Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit) poised to take the first two seats, Bailey and Hanafin will be in contention for the last of three seats.

Dún Laoghaire voters will say goodbye to outgoing TD and former Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore, who has represented his constituency with great distinction.

The prospect of Labour holding onto the seat through councillor Carrie Smyth will be a tall order.

Sinn Féin's Shane O'Brien is a dark horse, although probably one for the future. But the plot that unfolds in Dún Laoghaire will be shaped heavily by the performance of Fianna Fáil.

Councillor Cormac Devlin has endured a turbulent few months following the decision to add Ms Hanafin. But he has steadily built up his name and could cause a surprise come polling day.

Independent candidate Carol Hunt is aligned to the Shane Ross-led Dáil grouping and is expected to poll well - but will not be in contention for a seat.

Prediction: Fine Gael 2, People Before Profit 1

Irish Independent

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