And so the count begins… Ireland Editor Fionnán Sheahan takes a few election notes on what we should watch out for
After a month-long campaign, the votes are in and the count is on this morning in the Dublin Bay South by-election. Here’s what to watch out for:
In US Presidential election, they look to Ohio to gauge the result. In this case, watch the general route to Lansdowne Road. The area of the Pembroke West A ward on Dublin City Council is the link between the city and the suburbs with the most diverse mix of redbrick mansions, estates and apartments. The five main parties got a fairly representative vote here in the general election so you get a good picture.
Fine Gael’s James Geoghegan will give his council seat to a party colleague, if he becomes a TD, with speculation around former PD leader and Senator Michael McDowell’s son, Hugh.
Mr McDowell Snr was originally in Fine Gael locally, so an elevation of Mr McDowell Jnr would mark the return of the son of the prodigal son. But if Ivana Bacik wins, then there will have to be a Seanad by-election with votes for Trinity College Dublin graduates. Among the potential candidates would be previous runners like Hugo MacNeill and Tom Clonan and there is bound to be a campaigning female lawyer to take up Ms Bacik’s mantle.
Fine Gael, then Labour, and finally Fianna Fáil were all noticing a pattern as the week went on: a support sentiment for James Geoghegan. The Fine Gael candidate saw his party backing galvanised and a sympathetic ear from voters in the final days as a result of the sustained and personalised attacks on him on social media and very mainstream media.
To win, Geoghegan needs a five-point lead on the first count and be in around the 30pc mark.
A Fine Gael loss will result in a lot of finger pointing over the rejection of Kate O’Connell as the candidate.
But a win for Mr Geoghegan casts doubt over the future need for Ms O’Connell, who hasn’t done much at all to help her party’s campaign. Emma Blain, a councillor in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, but originally from Sandymount, is an option for the general election.
Starting at 9am, social distancing will make the count tricky.
Only 40 observers from political parties are allowed in. With 30 boxes being opened at a time, there will only be one person tallying per box, where normally there would be four.
Mistakes will be made. The parties will be asking the returning officer to go slow for the first 90 minutes for the joint tally. Their tallies in Dublin Bay South tend to be accurate and then eliminate the need for recounts and rows about eliminations.
Beware of early tallies as they usually start in D2, the city, Pearse Street, Ringsend, Irishtown and move south. Hence Sinn Féin and Independent Mannix Flynn will fare well early on. Ignore anyone claiming they can see an accurate transfer pattern from the opening of boxes.
Dublin Bay South and Dublin Central have the worst turnouts in the country, largely due to the transient population in parts of the constituency.
Expect a low turnout as a result. However, this will suit a party with the ability to get their own core support out, which is what Sinn Féin is banking on as its trump card. Labour has been targeting No 2’s for Ms Bacik in those areas too, assuming Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan goes out.
The Green Party’s Claire Byrne rowed back a bit from her ringing endorsement of Ivana Bacik a week ago. Anything less than a reasonable result for her puts Hazel Chu back on the agenda as a running mate for Eamon Ryan. The Greens still need to produce the goods and then claim they have no control over their transfers as they fail to help Fine Gael. The Greens elimination will be the crucial count.
Mary Lou was kissing babies, Leo was writing letters, Micheál was camped out and Eamon was rallying the troops.
Alan Kelly was out canvassing but was certainly low-key through the campaign, with suggestions from the Labour camp that his firebrand style wasn’t quite what the genteel voters of the leafy suburbs would appreciate. A win by Ms Bacik will see him front and centre though.
Appropriately there is a Waterloo Road in the constituency. Leo Varadkar will be facing his own Waterloo if he loses in this heartland. The criticism of the Fine Gael leader’s ability to secure electoral results for his party will come up again.
Fianna Fáil is praying for a fifth place finish above 10pc for Deirdre Conroy. How the mighty have fallen. The loss will take Jim O'Callaghan’s stature down a peg or two.
The director of elections on his home patch didn’t exactly electrify the party organisation with a calamitous campaign.