Sunday 17 November 2019

Adrian Kavanagh's general election countdown: Part 1

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton
Mary Lou McDonald

TDs return to the Dáil today after the Christmas break - but how many will still be there after the next general election, sometime in the next 15 months. Widely respected as the country's leading constituency analyst, Adrian Kavanagh assesses the state of play in all 40 constituencies in a three-part series - starting today with Dublin.

With the size of Dáil Éireann being reduced from 166 seats down to 158, incumbents are guaranteed to lose. But the highly-volatile political landscape means even more dramatic changes will be evident.

Opinion polls point towards large losses for the Coalition - with virtually none of the 102 Fine Gael and Labour Party TDs regarded as the holders of 'safe' seats, meaning anyone could potentially lose out to opponents - or running mates - in the scramble to save their status.

 

Dublin Central (3 seats)

Boundary changes have resulted in the loss of a seat and also a more working-class constituency. This places pressure on Paschal Donohoe in his attempts to retain his seat, but the Labour seat is also vulnerable here. With most of Mary Fitzpatrick's base now moved into Dublin West and a poor result locally in the May elections, Fianna Fáil face a struggle to regain a seat in Bertie Ahern's old stamping ground. Indeed, the results of the May local elections suggest that all of these seats could be filled by candidates from Sinn Féin and the Independents and Others grouping.

Potential gains:

Séamas McGrattan SF, Christy Burke/Cieran Perry Ind

Potential losses:

Paschal Donohoe FG, Joe Costello Lab

 

Dublin Bay North (5)

This new constituency is comprised of the old North-Central and (most of) the old North-East constituencies. Labour won three seats in these constituencies in 2011, but defections and declining support levels mean that they face a serious challenge to hold just one seat. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, by contrast, are well placed to gain seats and strong internal competition within the Fianna Fáil ranks could push up that party's support levels. A variety of defections have swelled the ranks of strong Independent candidates here, but the increased constituency size poses logistical challenges for them in competing with better-resourced political parties.

Potential gains:

Averil Power/Sean Haughey/Deirdre Heney FF, Larry O'Toole SF, John Lyons PBPA

Potential losses:

Sean KennyAodhán Ó Ríordáin Lab, Terence Flanagan/Finian McGrath Ind

 

Dublin North-West (3)

Sinn Féin should hold their seat here and are likely to challenge strongly to win a second, while Róisín Shortall has a good chance of retaining her seat. This was Labour's strongest constituency in terms of vote share in 2011, but the party faces a strong challenge to hold a seat here, especially following the Shortall defection. This, however, becomes a more middle-class constituency at the next general election, thus improving Fine Gael and Fianna Fail prospects here; indeed this could well prove to be the only constituency that Fine Gael makes a gain in at the next election.

Potential gains:

Emma Murphy/Noeleen Reilly SF, Paul McAuliffe FF, Noel Rock FG, Keegan Ind

Potential losses:

John Lyons Lab

 

Dublin Fingal (5)

This is one of the few constituencies to gain a seat at the upcoming election. Fianna Fáil should regain a seat here and Sinn Féin and the Green Party will also be in contention, as also could a number of Independent candidates who polled well at the local elections. The increased seat numbers may help to limit Government losses here and this could be one of a few constituencies that Labour manage to hold, although both parties risk losing a seat. The competition on the left of the political spectrum between Clare Daly and the Socialist Party candidate adds a further interesting dimension here.

Potential gains:

Darragh O'Brien FF, O'Brien GP, Philip Lynam/Malachy Quinn SF, Eugene Coppinger SP, David O'Connor/Tony Murphy/Joe Newman IND

Potential losses:

Brendan Ryan Lab, Dr James Reilly/Alan Farrell FG

 

Dublin West (4)

This "group-of-death" constituency could see two Government ministers losing their seats, although Leo Varadkar would seem to be better placed to retain his seat than Labour party leader Joan Burton, is. The main threat to the Burton seat comes from Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly. Fianna Fáil are also well placed to regain Brian Lenihan's seat, especially following the boundary changes that brought in the Navan Road area into this constituency, and the Fianna Fáil selection convention should be intensely competitive. Joe Higgins will not be running again and this means the Socialist Party may not retain the two seats they currently hold here.

Potential gains:

David McGuinness/Jack Chambers/Mary Fitzpatrick/Anita Lenihan FF, Paul Donnelly SF

Potential losses:

Joan Burton Lab, the Higgins SP seat

 

Dublin Mid-West (4)

In one of the harder constituencies to call, the Government parties hold all the seats here, but could lose most of these at the next election. Both parties will be aiming to hold at least one of their seats and this could be one of a handful of constituencies in which Labour succeed in winning a seat. Sinn Féin are strongly placed to gain a seat and could challenge for a second, whereas Fianna Fáil will look to regain the seat they lost in 2011. There will also be a number of strong challengers from the Independents and Others grouping.

Potential gains:

Eoin Ó Broin/Danny O'Brien SF, Trevor Gilligan FF, Gino Kenny PBPA, Guss O'Connell/Paul Gogarty Ind

Potential losses:

Joanna Tuffy/Robert Dowds Lab, Derek Keating/Frances Fitzgerald FG

 

Dublin South-West (5)

This enlarged constituency has become more middle class with the inclusion of the Rathfarnham area, a factor that will help Fianna Fáil - especially given John Lahart's strong base in that area - as well as Fine Gael. Labour will probably lose at least one of their two seats, but this could prove to be one of a few constituencies that they manage to win seats in. Despite the disappointing by-election result, Sinn Féin could win two seats here. Paul Murphy is well placed to retain the seat won at October's by-election.

Potential gains:

John Lahart FF, Sarah Holland/Cathal King/Maire Devine SF, Ronan McMahon/Dermot Looney Ind

Potential losses:

Pat Rabbitte/Eamonn Maloney Lab

 

Dublin Rathdown (3)

The dramatic boundary changes involving the old Dublin South constituency have resulted in the loss of two seats here, which puts even greater pressure on the Labour set although the party fared relatively well in this area at the local elections. At this point, the first two seats seem likely to fall to Shane Ross and Fine Gael, with the final seat likely to be strongly determined by vote transfers. This final seat will be fought over by the two government parties, as well as Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, while another strong independent challenger cannot be ruled out.

Potential gains:

Catherine Martin GP, Shay Brennan/Gerry Horkan FF, Seamus O'Neill/Deirdre Donnelly Ind

Potential losses: Alex White Lab, Alan Shatter FG, Peter Mathews Ind

 

Dublin South-Central (4)

Boundary changes have reduced this constituency's seat numbers by one, but have also made it a more working-class one. Based on recent polls and May's local elections, Sinn Féin will take one seat and also challenge for a second. At least one other seat will fall to the different groupings and candidates on the left of the political spectrum, although incumbent Joan Collins could lose out to Bríd Smith. Labour will probably lose at least one seat, but are in contention to retain their other seat. Fine Gael face a struggle to retain their seat, but Fianna Fáil could make a gain.

Potential gains:

Criona Ní Dhálaigh/Daithí Doolan SF, Bríd Smith PBPA, Catherine Ardagh/Daithí de Róiste FF, Paul Hand/Vincent Jackson Ind

Potential losses:

Catherine Byrne FG, Michael Conaghan/Eric Byrne Lab, Joan Collins UL

 

Dún Laoghaire (4)

If the Ceann Comhairle does not opt to retire from politics at this election, this constituency effectively becomes a three-seater. This places further pressure on the Labour seat here, although the party did achieve some successes at the local elections. Fine Gael are well placed to hold their second seat. Fianna Fáil are likely to regain a seat and there will be very strong competition here to get on the party ticket. Richard Boyd-Barrett's prospects of retaining his seat are decidedly stronger in light of recent national opinion polls and following a strong People Before Profit local elections performance here.

Potential gains:

Jennifer Cuffe/Mary Hanafin/Kate Feeney/Cormac Devlin FF

Potential losses:

Eamon Gilmore Lab

 

Dublin Bay South (4)

Chris Andrews' defection from Fianna Fáil has increased Sinn Féin's chances of winning a seat here. Lucinda Creighton's defection from Fine Gael, by contrast, may mean that party takes just one seat here, while she is well-placed to win a seat on for her new party. Labour will struggle to hold their two seats, although the party did poll relatively well here at the local elections. The Green Party and Fianna Fáil are both in contention to regain the seats that they lost here in 2011.

Potential gains:

Frank Kennedy/Jim O'Callaghan FF, Chris Andrews SF, Eamon Ryan GP, Mannix Flynn Ind

Potential losses:

The Ruairí Quinn Lab seat, Kevin Humphreys Lab

Irish Independent

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