Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sherlock fighting to keep Labour flag flying in Cork East

Minister of State Seán Sherlock, canvassing in Mallow, Co Cork. Photo: Mark Condren
Minister of State Seán Sherlock, canvassing in Mallow, Co Cork. Photo: Mark Condren
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Complacency is totally alien to the Sherlock family's DNA .

Seán Sherlock (43) may have comfortably held his Dáil seat in 2011, be ranked as one of Labour's brightest politicians and be marked out for future high ministerial office.

But he learned from hard experience as one of the closest advisors to his late father, Joe Sherlock TD, that it's not much good if you aren't re-elected.

Seán was elected in Cork East in 2007 after his father's retirement. But he has never forgotten the fact that his father twice lost his Cork East seat, before winning it back on both occasions - the final time, in 2002, after a gap of 10 years.

A legendary political campaigner, Joe Sherlock contested 12 general and by-elections, being elected on five occasions. "It's going to be tough. But I've a great party organisation and hopefully that will make the difference," said Seán.

However, this time, he won't have the benefit of a strong running-mate, such as former Cork East TD John Mulvihill, now retired, who polled just 591 behind Sinn Féin's Sandra McLellan, who took the final Dáil seat in 2011.

The politician who should have been Mr Sherlock's running mate, Councillor Noel McCarthy, is now running for Fine Gael.

Long-serving Fine Gael TD David Stanton appears certain to hold his seat.

Another issue will be the impact of Renua, in the shape of former Cork East TD Paul Bradford. His candidacy will be of particular concern to Fine Gael's Tom Barry TD.

A key question will also be how badly Sinn Féin is affected by the internal rows that resulted in expulsions and resignations in 2015. Former Sinn Féin official Councillor Kieran McCarthy is now running as an Independent.

Councillor Pat Buckley will need to hold Sinn Féin's 2011 vote if he is to defend the seat.

One of the few certainties is that Fianna Fáil is likely to regain a seat which it only lost in Cork East in 2011 by a margin of 649 votes when Councillor Kevin O'Keeffe ran instead of his father, former Food Minister Ned O'Keeffe.

Fianna Fáil's other candidate is Barbara Ahern, daughter of former Cork East TD and junior minister Michael Ahern.

Prediction: Two FG, FF, LAB.

Cork East

Candidates:4 seats

FG Tom Barry TD, FG David Stanton TD, FG Noel McCarthy, LAB Sean Sherlock TD, FF Kevin O'Keefe, FF Barbara Ahern, SF Pat Buckley, AAA Ciara Leonardi Roche, R Paul Bradford, SD Ken Curtin, GP Natasha Harty, IND Kieran McCarthy, IND Mary Linehan Foley, IND Ross Cannon, IND Paddy Bulman

Irish Independent

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