Dublin West: Confident Higgins boosted by extra seat in his constituency
THE MOST star-studded constituency in the country goes from three to four seats at this election -- and Socialist MEP Joe Higgins is hoping to benefit.
Mr Higgins lost his Dublin West seat at the 2007 General Election as voters returned Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Labour's Joan Burton and Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar.
But a rearranging of the north-Dublin constituencies has seen a portion of Dublin North move into neighbouring Dublin West, increasing the number of seats up for grabs.
"We're confident but not complacent by any means," the Dublin MEP said last night. "We'll be working extremely hard for the next three weeks."
He's renewing his long-term rivalry with Ms Burton and the two geared up for the election by having a public spat on TV3's 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' last week.
Mr Higgins said his new umbrella group, the United Left Alliance, is getting good feedback. "I think on the basis of the alternative economic policy that we are outlining, the fact that ordinary people should not be paying billions of bad gambling debt and so on, we are getting a very good response."
Another factor working in Mr Higgins' favour is that the area of Swords transferred into Dublin West strongly supported his Socialist Party colleague Clare Daly.
It makes Mr Higgins' return to the Dail from the European Parliament all the more likely. Even though he's conquered his initial fear of flying, he's keen to get back from Brussels.
"It's crucial that we build a strong left alternative and that is why I'm anxious to be a part of that and get back," he said.
Mr Lenihan's massive 2007 haul of 11,000 first preference votes means he is sitting on the safest Fianna Fail seat in Dublin. His young running mate David McGuinness (24) will be looking to boost his profile for future elections.
Joan Burton is a dead cert for a cabinet position in a Fine Gael-Labour coalition, although it may not be in the finance portfolio she covets. Labour is running Patrick Nulty, another Fingal councillor, with Ms Burton and the party hopes he will eat into Mr Higgins' vote.
Dublin West could have two cabinet posts after the election if Enda Kenny forgives Mr Varadkar for siding with the rebels in last summer's heave.
Cllr Kieran Dennison is also standing for FG, while Paul Donnelly is running for Sinn Fein and Roderic O'Gorman represents the Greens.
But it's hard to see past the fragrant four of Burton, Higgins, Lenihan and Varadkar in this constituency.
Brian Lenihan TD
Cllr David McGuinness
Leo Varadkar TD
Cllr Kieran Dennison
Joan Burton TD
Cllr Patrick Nulty
Joe Higgins MEP
Last time out in 2007
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan – then a junior minister – topped the poll and was elected on the first count, almost 3,000 votes over the quota. Mr Lenihan got 11,125 first preferences – over 4,000 more than Leo Varadkar, his nearest rival.
Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party lost his seat to Mr Varadkar, who regained the Fine Gael seat lost at the 2002 General Election.
Labour’s Joan Burton only beat Mr Higgins on the fifth count, after the transfer of the votes of Gerry Lynam, Brian Lenihan’s running mate. Ms Burton eventually managed to edge Mr Higgins out by 433 votes.
VOTERS PER TD 17,000