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Bitesize ballot - the final week: Who's on the run or in the running


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Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, left, of Fine Gael at a General Election campaign event in Dublin (Aoife Moore/PA)

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, left, of Fine Gael at a General Election campaign event in Dublin (Aoife Moore/PA)

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, left, of Fine Gael at a General Election campaign event in Dublin (Aoife Moore/PA)

Three weeks is a long time in politics. The key battles for seats across 39 constituencies have changed dramatically since the campaign started.

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DUBLIN

DUBLIN BAY SOUTH:

Murphy's law suits Andrews

Sinn Féin taking out the Housing Minister would be quite the symbolic change. Murphy's Law applies when anything that can go wrong does go wrong. For Fine Gael Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to lose would mean his party going into meltdown. On a bad day for Fine Gael and a great day for Sinn Féin, he gets beaten by Chris Andrews. Certainly that's where Fine Gael's focus has shifted. Andrews is a former Fianna Fáil TD and a member of that party's esteemed southside dynasty. He'll poll well in Ringsend and the south-east inner city but it will test the Shinner Surge to see if he can go all the way. Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell also has to make sure not to be passed out by Murphy or she gets sucked into the fray. Labour's Kevin Humphreys should not be dismissed either. Green Eamon Ryan will top the poll and regret not also running Hazel Chu. Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan is reasonably solid, but hardly safe.

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Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that while the number of people in crisis is 'unacceptably' high, the latest reduction is a move in the right direction. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that while the number of people in crisis is 'unacceptably' high, the latest reduction is a move in the right direction. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that while the number of people in crisis is 'unacceptably' high, the latest reduction is a move in the right direction. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

DUBLIN RATHDOWN:

Ross steadies the ship

Green Catherine Martin and Fine Gael minister Josepha Madigan are as safe as is possible in the most volatile constituency in the country. Independent minister Shane Ross is never short of drama and he has a posse of Fianna Fáil's Shay Brennan, Labour's Lettie McCarthy and Fine Gael's Neale Richmond after him. Fine Gael's struggles have put paid to Richmond's ambitions of taking out Ross.

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Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: PA

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: PA

DÚN LAOGHAIRE:

The double-barrel battle

Green Ossian Smyth seemingly can't lose and Fine Gael's Mary Mitchell O'Connor will survive the squeeze. Fianna Fáil's Cormac Devlin has the local work rate, but Mary Hanafin has a claim to a ministerial car if her party gets into power. S/PBP's Richard Boyd Barrett has to stave off Fine Gael's Jennifer Carroll-MacNeill, which appears eminently doable. It would have to be a Shinner Swarm for Sinn Féin's Shane O'Brien to come into contention. Fine Gael is already down retiring TD Seán Barrett and the ditched Maria Bailey.

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Chairman of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Ossian Smyth

Chairman of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Ossian Smyth

Chairman of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Ossian Smyth

DUBLIN SOUTH-CENTRAL:

Ardagh still on target

Fine Gael minister Catherine Byrne is said to be toast. Fianna Fáil's Catherine Ardagh went close enough last time to make her a natural replacement. Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh tops the poll, but has no running mate to challenge for a second. People Before Profit's Bríd Smith has the national profile but Independents 4 Change Joan Collins has the local work rate, with Green Patrick Costello and Labour's Rebecca Moynihan in the hunt.

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The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party’s Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh. Photo: Damien Eagers

The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party’s Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh. Photo: Damien Eagers

The issue is due to be raised in the Oireachtas today by the party’s Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh. Photo: Damien Eagers

DUBLIN SOUTH-WEST:

The turmoil in Tallaght

Sinn Féin's Seán Crowe is home and hosed. The party must be kicking itself for not also running Cathal King or Lynn Boylan. Fine Gael's Colm Brophy and Fianna Fáil's John Lahart are reasonably safe. Fianna Fáil's Charlie O'Connor and Green Francis Noel Duffy are challenging Independent minister Katherine Zappone and Rise's Paul Murphy.

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Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe is elected at The City West Count Centre last night.

Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe is elected at The City West Count Centre last night.

Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe is elected at The City West Count Centre last night.

DUBLIN MID-WEST:

Shinners stretch for a double

The Sinn Féin surge began here in the by-election when Eoin Ó Broin masterminded his colleague Mark Ward's victory. Suddenly, the double doesn't look all that far-fetched but depends on being able to suppress Ó Broin and manage the vote with Ward. People Before Profit's Gino Kenny is standing in their way. Fianna Fáil's John Curran is grand. Fine Gael expects to take back the seat held by Frances Fitzgerald through Emer Higgins or Vicki Casserly. Labour's Joanna Tuffy, Independent Paul Gogarty and Green Peter Kavanagh are in the chasing pack. The main contenders are all up the Clondalkin end, so a Lucan local vote could play a factor.

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People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny says Fianna Fail are ‘outdated’ in their stance on drugs (Niall Carson/PA)

People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny says Fianna Fail are ‘outdated’ in their stance on drugs (Niall Carson/PA)

People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny says Fianna Fail are ‘outdated’ in their stance on drugs (Niall Carson/PA)

DUBLIN WEST:

Joan and Ruth are prey

Labour's Joan Burton is under attack from Green Roderic O'Gorman and Solidarity's Ruth Coppinger is marked by Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly. The constituency where Mary Lou McDonald originally ran in 2002 is Sinn Féin's best chance of a gain in the capital. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's ambitions to take a second seat with running mate Emer Currie are curtailed by a lack of votes to share out. Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers should be alright, but doesn't have room for complacency.

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Labour Party TD Joan Burton

Labour Party TD Joan Burton

Labour Party TD Joan Burton

DUBLIN CENTRAL:

Hourigan and Gannon on line

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald will top the poll, followed by Fine Gael Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. At her fourth attempt, Fianna Fáil's Mary Fitzpatrick finally has a great chance to win after being squeezed out by Bertie Ahern's Drumcondra Mafia all the way back in 2007. Green Neasa Hourigan currently has the edge over Social Democrats Gary Gannon, but only by a nose.

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Excluded: Mary Lou McDonald has been excluded from the RTÉ debates despite a surge in the polls. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Excluded: Mary Lou McDonald has been excluded from the RTÉ debates despite a surge in the polls. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Excluded: Mary Lou McDonald has been excluded from the RTÉ debates despite a surge in the polls. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

DUBLIN BAY NORTH:

The return of Ó Ríordáin

The departure of Independents Finian McGrath and Tommy Broughan loosens up the field. The stars are aligned for Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. Fine Gael minister Richard Bruton is solid, as is Fianna Fáil's Seán Haughey. Sinn Féin's Denise Mitchell is out of the danger zone. Green David Healy has to fend off Social Democrats Cian O'Callaghan and Independent John Lyons.

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Richard Bruton

Richard Bruton

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Richard Bruton

DUBLIN NORTH-WEST:

Not so solid Rock

Fianna Fáil Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe is flying in Finglas and Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellis is back in business in Ballymun after an awful local elections and internal faction fights. Fine Gael's Noel Rock would have to take on Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall in Glasnevin, so it's a bridge too far for him. Green Caroline Conroy is the dark horse and would be the shock of the election in Dublin, if she figured in the final reckoning.

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Noel Rock. Picture: Collins

Noel Rock. Picture: Collins

Noel Rock. Picture: Collins

DUBLIN FINGAL:

Daly gap pivotal

Sinn Féin's Louise O'Reilly is now fine, along with Fianna Fáil's Darragh O'Brien and Green Joe O'Brien. Labour's Duncan Smith is making a better play of filling the vacuum caused by Clare Daly's election as an MEP than her putative successor, Independent Dean Mulligan. Fine Gael's James Reilly is making a late challenge on his party's sitting TD, Alan Farrell. It's a bit of a stretch and Fine Gael is still in danger of having no seat. Fianna Fáil's Lorraine Clifford-Lee is ready for any slip ups by Labour or Fine Gael.

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Louise O'Reilly. Photo: Collins

Louise O'Reilly. Photo: Collins

Louise O'Reilly. Photo: Collins

LEINSTER

WEXFORD:

Southern exposure

Watch the north-south divide.

Labour's Brendan Howlin makes it nine general elections in a row. Fianna Fáil will hold two, most likely sitting TDs James Browne and Malcolm Byrne, but they have to watch running mate Michael Sheehan benefiting from geography. Fine Gael will drop one, from either ministers Paul Kehoe or Michael D'Arcy. Sinn Féin is not confident of Johnny Mythen as it feels he is too far north. The last seat seems destined to go down south with former Fine Gael candidate and Independent Verona Murphy and former TD Mick Wallace backing Seán O'Shea. Aontú's Jim Codd is a long shot. The smart money appears to be on Independent Ger Carthy in Rosslare.

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Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

CARLOW-KILKENNY:

Carlow shapes the field

Sinn Féin's Kathleen Funchion was dead in the water but now has a fighting chance, which changes everyone else's ambitions. Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness in Kilkenny city is solid. But Bobby Aylward in the south county is vulnerable if Jennifer Murnane O'Connor in Carlow gets the better of Fine Gael's Pat Deering and Fianna Fáil falls short of three seats. Fine Gael minister John Paul Phelan seems OK. Green Malcolm Noonan will need a big lift to be in contention.

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Junior housing minister John Paul Phelan

Junior housing minister John Paul Phelan

Junior housing minister John Paul Phelan

WICKLOW:

Donnelly flirts with danger

Houdini-like, Sinn Féin's John Brady now benefits from the surge. Fine Gael minister Simon Harris is safe but will be down and fellow minister Andrew Doyle is in danger. Fianna Fáil's Pat Casey is fine but Stephen Donnelly is in a right old melee with his former protegé, Social Democrats Jennifer Whitmore, Green Steven Matthews and a raft of Independents, including former TD Joe Behan, Jon Snell and Val Cox.

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Simon Harris. Picture: Frank McGrath

Simon Harris. Picture: Frank McGrath

Simon Harris. Picture: Frank McGrath

LAOIS-OFFALY:

Birr brings chill for Fine Gael

All the action is in west Offaly where Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy is fighting a losing battle in Birr. The contenders for the seat are Independent John Leahy, Fianna Fáil's Peter Ormond and Green Pippa Hackett, while Independent former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan is an outside bet. Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen is solid in Tullamore for the second Offaly seat and the three Laois seats go to Fianna Fáil's Seán Fleming, Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley and Fine Gael minister Charlie Flanagan.

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Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. Photo: Tom Burke

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. Photo: Tom Burke

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. Photo: Tom Burke

KILDARE NORTH:

Greens gauge the mood

Fine Gael fears the great survivor Bernard Durkan has run one election too many. Green Vincent P Martin is capturing the mood. Fianna Fáil duo Frank O'Rourke and James Lawless are trying to hold on. Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy is in no danger. Sinn Féin's Réada Cronin would show a Shinner Swell if she gets in the frame.

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Irish Social Democrats politician Catherine Murphy during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 30, 2020. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Irish Social Democrats politician Catherine Murphy during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 30, 2020. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Irish Social Democrats politician Catherine Murphy during a seven way leaders General Election debate at the Virgin Media Studios in Dublin, Ireland. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 30, 2020. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

KILDARE SOUTH:

Wall stands in Doyle's way

Fianna Fáil's Fiona O'Loughlin seeks to bring in running mate Suzanne Doyle for the new seat. But Labour's Mark Wall has a big chance to replace his father, Jack, with Athy support vital. Fine Gael's Martin Heydon will be confident but not complacent, especially with former Fine Gael, now Independent Fiona McLoughlin Healy, in the gene pool. Fianna Fáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is automatically elected.

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No time to relax: Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

No time to relax: Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

No time to relax: Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon. Photo: Tom Burke

LONGFORD-WESTMEATH:

Clarke comes from left field

Sinn Féin's Sorca Clarke is the party's ultimate long shot. The party did come close last time with a different candidate, Paul Hogan. Her presence will upset the battle for Longford, where Fianna Fáil's Joe Flaherty has the beating of Fine Gael's Micheál Carrigy. Again, Longford could end up with no TD. Independent minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Fine Gael's Peter Burke and Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy seem solid.

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Kevin 'Boxer' Moran. Picture: Collins

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran. Picture: Collins

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran. Picture: Collins

MEATH WEST:

Black sheep takes on flock

The Shinner Surge gets personal as the party seeks to take its seat back from former TD Peader Tóibín, now the leader of the fledgling Aontú. Sinn Féin's Johnny Guirke has a difficult task. Fine Gael minister Damien English and Fianna Fáil's Shane Cassells are comfortable.

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 'SHOCKING': Peader Toibin

'SHOCKING': Peader Toibin

'SHOCKING': Peader Toibin

MEATH EAST:

Regina's Royal rumble

Fine Gael minister Regina Doherty is in deep danger. On a bad day, the party simply won't have the numbers to return her and fellow minister Helen McEntee. McEntee and Fianna Fáil ministerial contender Thomas Byrne should hold. Doherty is the weaker link as she's hunted in the commuter belt by Sinn Féin's Darren O'Rourke and now less so Fianna Fáil's Deirdre Geraghty Smith.

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Regina Doherty. Photo: Douglas OConnor

Regina Doherty. Photo: Douglas OConnor

Regina Doherty. Photo: Douglas OConnor

LOUTH:

Big bother in wee county

It's not guaranteed but Sinn Féin is in play to hold two seats with Imelda Munster in Drogheda, and Ruairí Ó Murchú in Dundalk, replacing Gerry Adams. Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd and Fianna Fáil's Declan Breathnach should be alright. Then there's a right scrap for the seat held by Independent former Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick - and the second Sinn Féin seat if it comes loose - with Labour's Ged Nash and Green Mark Dearey. Fianna Fáil's James Byrne and Fine Gael's John McGahon will build for another day.

Irish Independent