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Saturday 25 November 2017

Luck of the redraw for many TDs as landscape shifts

DUBLIN RATHDOWN: group of death in already volatile area.

Traditionally, the former Dublin South was the most volatile constituency in the country where candidates topped the poll and then lost out next time.

Fine Gael's trio of Olivia Mitchell, Alan Shatter and Peter Mathews, Labour's Alex White and Independent Shane Ross now know two of them are not coming back.

And their options for moving elsewhere are limited. Bloodbath.

DUBLIN BAY NORTH: Labour's three seats now under fire.

Labour is the most threatened by the merger of two three-seaters -- Dublin North-Central and Dublin North-East.

But there are only five seats in the new constituency so the chances of its three TDs all being returned are slim.

Labour has Aodhan O Riordain and Sean Kenny and it's not clear if Tommy Broughan will run under the party banner -- or as an Independent -- as he has lost the whip.

Fine Gael's Richard Bruton and Terence Flanagan will be hoping to hold on. A five-seater is better for Independent TD Finian McGrath, but Fianna Fail's Senator Averil Power and Deirdre Heney, along with Sinn Fein, will be challenging for a seat.

LEINSTER

OFFALY: all open as new seat up for grabs.

A brand new seat up for grabs in Offaly, with Fine Gael's Liam Quinn the early favourite to capitalise, especially as he moves into Tullamore.

His party colleague and sitting TD, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, benefits from the addition of a chunk of north Tipperary. However, after the Cowen brand held up last time, Fianna Fail will look to Barry Cowen to carry a second seat.

Independent former Fianna Fail candidate John Foley is certainly in the hunt.

Labour and Sinn Fein will have to develop a candidate.

MUNSTER

KERRY: Independents under pressure in Kingdom.

Aside from the six sitting TDs battling it out for five seats, Fianna Fail will also be in the frame -- if the party gets its candidate strategy right.

Independents Michael Healy-Rae and Tom Fleming will be under most pressure to get votes up north.

Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris needs to pick up scarce votes in the south.

Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan and Brendan Griffin will be cagily watching a third running mate in Tralee.

Labour's Arthur Spring's position will be consolidated.

TIPPERARY: trouble for Fine Gael and Labour Party in redraw.

Problems abound for Fine Gael and the Labour Party from the redraw. Neither Fine Gael's Noel Coonan nor Labour's Alan Kelly will be happy.

Fine Gael's Tom Hayes has a better geographic base, but the party will hope both he and Mr Coonan come home.

Mr Kelly will need a southern running mate -- but not one that's too strong.

Independents Michael Lowry and Mattie McGrath will seek to up their profiles on a county-wide basis.

Mr Lowry is now in a stronger position though.

Provided it gets the right runner, Fianna Fail will surely take a seat back too.

CONNACHT-ULSTER

MAYO: Kenny's Fine Gael to manage seat loss.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is guaranteed to lose at least one of the four Fine Gael seats as his home county of Mayo is reduced from a five-seater to a four-seater.

Already, the speculation is focusing on John O'Mahony replacing sitting MEP Jim Higgins in the European Parliament -- although both Mr O'Mahony and Mr Higgins might have something to say about that cunning plan.

But the party has to be careful to ensure it holds three seats.

DONEGAL: Sinn Fein still aims for two seats.

Donegal has lost a seat but Sinn Fein should be able to hold onto their two seats with Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn.

Fine Gael will be under pressure to hold onto Joe McHugh's and Dinny McGinley's seat. Independent TD Thomas Pringle will have to draw in support from the north east of the county. Fianna Fail TD Charlie McConalogue will have a strong chance -- but the party's hopes of getting back another seat are all but gone.

SLIGO-LEITRIM: make or break for MacSharry.

The addition of a seat puts Fianna Fail in the frame and it's really make or break for Senator Marc MacSharry -- son of former EU Commissioner Ray MacSharry. The addition of more Leitrim voters will consolidate the position of Sinn Fein's Michael Colreavy -- or colleague Martin Kenny.

Fine Gael will be looking to keep its two seats with Junior Minister John Perry and Tony McLoughlin but the party will also have a Leitrim candidate.

CAVAN-MONAGHAN: Fine Gael down but blow for Sinn Fein too.

Fine Gael is the big loser as the constituency drops from five seats to four, meaning there's no way all three TDs -- Joe O'Reilly, Heather Humphreys and Sean Conlan -- can be re-elected.

And the hiving off of part of Cavan may also cost Fine Gael some of the Church of Ireland voters who traditionally support it.

But it is also a blow to Sinn Fein, which had hoped that Senator Kathryn Reilly could get elected alongside Caoimhghin O Caolain.

ROSCOMMON-GALWAY: potential Fine Gael-free zone.

Fine Gael won two out of three seats here last year, but it now could end up with none.

Frank Feighan is in dire straits after the loss of his Leitrim voting base and the closure of Roscommon Hospital's A&E.

The party's candidate on the Galway side will be either transferring TD Paul Connaughton Jnr or Senator Michael Mullins.

The addition of Galway voters will actually help Independent former Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten, who has family connections there.

There are also turfcutters -- which will help Independent TD Luke "Ming" Flanagan.

Fianna Fail will now be hoping to challenge for a seat -- probably with Orla Leyden.

Irish Independent

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