Dublin North-Central: Independent McGrath speaks up for maverick voices in Dail
HE claims he has "the dodgiest seat in Leinster House" -- but Finian McGrath is hoping the surge of support for Independents can return him to the Dail.
The Dublin North-Central TD also defended the role of Independents amid criticism of the deals Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae squeezed out of the Government in its dying days. Mr McGrath was one of the group of Independents who originally supported the Government in the aftermath of the 2007 General Election but he pulled out as cutbacks began to bite in 2008.
He defended the deal he did with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern -- and said he pushed for national issues as well as local issues.
"One of the main issues I campaigned for then was a national cystic fibrosis centre in St Vincent's Hospital and I also campaigned for Beaumont Hospital, which is in the constituency," he said yesterday.
"So it was a mix of national and local. There's a certain section of Irish society that looks down on Independents but I don't go along with that elitist view. This is an issue that is coming up on the doors but there's a difference between Independents with a national view and Independents with a parochial view."
Disillusion with mainstream political parties has seen support for Independents rise to 15pc in recent opinion polls and there are twice as many Independents standing in this election as there were in 2007.
"There's a strong tradition of Independent candidates in this area, going back to Noel Browne and Sean 'Dublin Bay' Loftus," Mr McGrath said. "It's important to have a dissenting voice in the Dail."
But he said it was a struggle competing with big party machines and disagreed with the view that a vote for an Independent would be wasted since the predicted Fine Gael-Labour coalition could have a whopping Dail majority.
Mr McGrath added: "They could just fall a few seats short of a majority and that's when the Independents could come into play."
FG's Richard Bruton should be comfortable in Dublin North-Central but bringing in his running mate, councillor Naoise O Muiri, may be a challenge too far.
Mr McGrath is fighting off a strong challenge from Labour councillor Aodhan O Riordain, who's pushing hard to gain a seat in the three-seat constituency. It had been felt the fight for final seat would be between Mr O Riordain and Mr McGrath, but the drop in Fianna Fail support could drag Sean Haughey down and make it a three-way scrap for two seats.
There is a loyal FF vote in the area from the time of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, but it's unclear if Sean Haughey can rely on the remnants of his father's support.
Sean Haughey TD
Richard Bruton TD
Cllr Naoise O Muiri
Cllr Aodhan O’Riordan
UNITED LEFT ALLIANCE
Finian McGrath TD
Last time out in 2007
The constituency went from four to three seats, with Ivor Callely of FF losing out.
Finian McGrath beat Mr Callely on the fifth count, after the votes of Bronwen Maher – then of the Greens – and Derek McDowell of Labour were distributed.
Richard Bruton and Sean Haughey were elected on the first count, with Mr Bruton topping the poll with 9,300 votes – 300 ahead of his rival.
VOTERS PER TD 17,460