Tuesday 28 January 2020

The bitesize ballot: A rough guide to runners and riders battling it out in Munster during Election 2020

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaking at the party's opening press conference of the general election at their election headquarters in Dublin city centre. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaking at the party's opening press conference of the general election at their election headquarters in Dublin city centre. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Fionnán Sheahan

Fionnán Sheahan

After an inside look at the battles expected in Leinster on Wednesday, part two today moves the focus to Munster and an assessment of where the key constituencies will be won and lost during General Election 2020.

MUNSTER

CORK SOUTH-CENTRAL: The All-Star square-off

Take pity on Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.

His all-star constituency colleagues are Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and finance spokesman Michael McGrath. All three are guaranteed election. Coveney is targeting Ó Laoghaire to get his running mate Jerry Buttimer back in business. And then there’s resurgent Greens newbie Lorna Bogue in contention too.

CORK NORTH-CENTRAL: Four seats

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Solidarity TD Mick Barry

A series of curious incidents sees Solidarity’s Mick Barry the only one defending his seat. Fine Gael’s Colm Burke is trying to finally become a TD after nearly 40 years of trying. Fianna Fáil’s Pádraig O’Sullivan seems home and hosed after his by-election win. A running mate is still a strong possibility if the party goes for two on the back of ‘Micheál for Taoiseach’. Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould and Barry can’t afford any slip-ups with Labour speaking highly of John Maher.

CORK EAST: Buckley on the backfoot

Sinn Féin’s Pat Buckley is on the backfoot from Fianna Fáil golden boy James O’Connor and Fine Gael’s Pa O’Driscoll. After a strong local elections showing, Independent Mary Linehan-Foley also fancies her chances. Fine Gael’s David Stanton and Fianna Fáil’s Kevin O’Keeffe are in before a vote is cast, while Labour’s Seán Sherlock never takes anything for granted.

CORK NORTH-WEST: Age-old rivalry recharged

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Agriculture Minister Michael Creed

A rootin’, tootin’, good old-fashioned straight shoot-out between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael Minister Michael Creed will get elected, no bother, but his real task is to bring in his running mate, former Independent John Paul O’Shea. He is up against Fianna Fáil’s formidable sitting TD duo of Michael Moynihan and Aindrias Moynihan. O’Shea is based in Michael’s end of the constituency, so geography dictates only one of them makes it. The winning party doesn’t just have to win more support, but manage its vote too.

CORK SOUTH-WEST: Blue blood scented

Fine Gael should be going for two seats. Instead, the party is worried about holding one. The new ticket of Tim Lombard and Karen Coakley faces a baptism of fire. Fianna Fáil’s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony is joined late in the day by poll-topping councillor Christopher O’Sullivan as the party sniffs Blue blood in Michael Collins country. The other Michael Collins, the sitting Independent TD, will be worried about getting caught in the crossfire.

KERRY: Into the wild for SF’s Daly

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The Healy-Rae brothers Michael (left) and Danny, Independent deputies for Kerry, at Leinster House

To the lions of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin’s Pa Daly is viewed like a young gazelle trying to gain its footing in the wild. Daly is Martin Ferris’s replacement and the big parties are piling in candidates on top of him. Fianna Fáil’s Norma Foley and Fine Gael’s Mike Kennelly both got sizeable local election votes in the north of the county where Daly is based, as did Fianna Fáil’s Norma Moriarty in the south. Fine Gael Minister Brendan Griffin and Fianna Fáil TD John Brassil will be keeping a wary eye on their running mates. Although they’ll claim to be in jeopardy til the cows come home, Michael Healy-Rae and Danny Healy-Rae will roll in as smoothly as the surface on the road through Kilgarvan.

LIMERICK COUNTY: Consistency in a world gone mad

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Patrick O'Donovan. Photo: Tom Burke

The climate is changing all over the world, but there are no changing winds in west Limerick. The rivalry between Fine Gael Minister Patrick O’Donovan and fellow TD Tom Neville keeps both on their toes. Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins is as sure as anything. So far, nobody else seems bothered to even put up a proper challenge.

LIMERICK CITY: A trio of targets

Willie O’Dea would absolutely guarantee a Cabinet place in a Fianna Fáil government by bringing home running mate James Collins. There’s no shortage of targets. Fine Gael’s Maria Byrne and Kieran O’Donnell are a weak line up. Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan is never safe and Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan is also shaky. Green Brian Leddin is being tipped as an outside bet to pull off a shock.

CLARE: Crowe goes for it

After years on the sidelines, Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe is playing senior hurling now and faring well. Provided Fianna Fáil manages its vote, both Crowe and Timmy Dooley will be elected. Fine Gael has been thrown a lifeline by Independent Michael Harty’s withdrawal.But Fine Gael Minister Pat Breen and Joe Carey are far from safe with Independents like Michael McNamara lurking with intent.

TIPPERARY: FG seeks to dodge a second calamity

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Independent Tipperary TD Michael Lowry. Photo: Collins Courts

The Premier County is technically the most independently-minded part of the country with three non-party TDs, Michael Lowry, Mattie McGrath and Seamus Healy. Fine Gael figure Healy is the weakest. The party’s line up of Garret Ahearn and Mary Newman Julian is untested though. Losing two seats and ending up with no TD last time out was a calamity Fine Gael dare not even think of repeating. Fianna Fáil’s Jackie Cahill, Labour’s Alan Kelly and Lowry will get across handily and McGrath should be there too.

WATERFORD: Departures create openings

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Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane. Photo: Tom Burke

Fine Gael HQ is keeping its fingers crossed on the new line up of John Cummins in the city and Damien Geoghegan in the county. On a bad day for Fine Gael, the party loses its seat and Fianna Fáil takes two. However, Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler is susceptible to losing out to her running mate Eddie Mulligan. Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane is a strong vote-getter and will be fine. Independent Minister John Halligan’s departure opens the door for Independent Matt Shanahan, the Greens and Labour. The Green’s Marc Ó Cathasaigh is building for a cut at a seat and Labour cites John Pratt as its dark horse as it has pedigree in the county.

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