Monday 17 June 2019

European Elections Dublin constituency: Battle is all about who can take final two seats

General view of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: REUTERS
General view of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: REUTERS
John Downing

John Downing

Detailing the Dublin constituency:

TERRAIN:

This is the only one of the three Euro constituencies which makes sense, comprising the city and county of Dublin. It is one of the rare occasions when the four local council areas vote as a unit.

Dublin has one-third of the nation's population crowded into a small congested space, and poses big campaign challenges. The area gains a seat, going from three to four - that fourth only happening when Brexit finally happens.

BIG NAMES:

With a hugely crowded field, and a plethora of Independents and smaller parties, especially on the left of the political spectrum, name recognition is central to success. And here we have big names: one outgoing MEP, a former Tánaiste, a former minister, two former junior ministers, a former Northern Ireland deputy first minister, a TD and a senator.

FINE GAEL:

Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has huge experience and name recognition, and she will succeed.

She got a rough deal when forced out of office in December 2017. But she has plenty of energy left for a new role. As a former Tánaiste, she would command an influential post in the European Parliament at a time when Ireland will need all the influence it can get. Her running mate is the impressive and experienced Mark Durkan, former North deputy first minister, long-time SDLP leader, MLA and Westminster MP, who presents as a Brexit candidate. But it's a long shot at best for Durkan.

FIANNA FÁIL:

It badly needs a win in Dublin, after losing on the last two occasions, if it is ever to reclaim its slot as national kingpin. Former junior minister Barry Andrews has enhanced his EU credentials by becoming head of the Institute of International and European Affairs. Being the party's only contender in a four-seater is a big help and shows a careful approach to the task of rebuilding in Dublin by Fianna Fáil. He enjoys good name recognition and he should win.

SINN FÉIN:

Lynn Boylan was a poll-topping MEP for the party in Dublin last time out. She has boosted her name recognition in Dublin and also built a reputation in Brussels since then. The party has a good Dublin vote and will campaign hard. But many of the left-leaning candidates are active locally and this could combine with a slide in party popularity to pull down her first preferences and leave her vulnerable.

Such a loss for party leader Mary Lou McDonald would be a major calamity. It would repeat an experience she herself had in 2009. So, watch for a big stepping-up of the campaign in these final days.

LABOUR AND GREENS:

Alex White is a former communications minister charged with helping rebuild Labour's fortunes in the capital. He is able and energetic and will challenge for the final seat. Again, his and Labour's difficulty is the plethora of other left-wing contenders. It is also unclear how transfer-friendly Labour still is.

But his effort will be boosted by a large number of young local candidates, many of them women, also out on the Dublin canvass trail. It's a big challenge but a win would make him the toast of Labour.

Ciarán Cuffe is a former TD for Dún Laoghaire, a junior minister for urban planning, and long-time Green Party Dublin councillor. He is running a huge campaign, will benefit from renewed attention to environmental issues, crucially may attract a huge volume of transfers and could win through. In 2014 Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was unlucky not to win in this contest. Cuffe has been campaigning since his return to Dublin City Council five years ago and has been very vociferous on issues such as transport, traffic, road safety and housing.

OTHERS:

Many of the other candidates can only succeed in attracting attention for causes they espouse or in increasing their local profile for future reference. Gary Gannon, of the fledgling Social Democrats, impressed in Dublin Central in the 2016 General Election and will poll reasonably well. Senator Alice Mary Higgins is the daughter of the President.

Independents4Change contender Clare Daly is in with a real chance of a seat. She has made an impact since her arrival as TD for Dublin Fingal in 2011 and is among the most impressive Dáil performers. Much will depend on the final week of this campaign. Every extra first preference makes the chances of staying in long enough to get the transfers required to get over the line.

 

Irish Independent

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