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Too close to call – Dublin West is on a knife-edge

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CANVASSING: Labour candidate for Dublin West Lorraine Mulligan, left, with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, canvassing in Clonsilla, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

CANVASSING: Labour candidate for Dublin West Lorraine Mulligan, left, with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, canvassing in Clonsilla, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

CANVASSING: Labour candidate for Dublin West Lorraine Mulligan, left, with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, canvassing in Clonsilla, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn

IT’s WAY too close to call.

That’s the blunt assessment of this weekend’s political quagmire known as the Dublin West by-election.

It’s a contest that will set the scene for a significant shift in the Irish political landscape.

A victory for Fianna Fail’s David McGuinness would provide Micheal Martin’s party with its first Dail seat in the capital since Brian Lenihan’s death in 2011.

Sinn Fein, meanwhile, know that the party will perform well at the polls.

CRUCIAL

To make matters worse for their opponents, Sinn Fein’s chosen candidate Paul Donnelly is making a significant impact on the campaign trail.

A crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the by-election will be the direction of almost 9,000 votes secured by former TD Patrick Nulty.

Constituents in Dublin West were left stunned following Mr Nulty’s shock resignation from the Dail in March over inappropriate Facebook messages to a female constituent.

The ex-Labour TD was highly regarded in Dublin 15 where he worked tirelessly for the community.

But in the end, Mr Nulty felt he had to forfeit his political career.

Candidates from all parties know that Mr Nulty’s support base is now up for grabs - and it could decide who is the next TD in Dublin West.

The smart money is on Socialist candidate Ruth Coppinger.

The Fingal councillor is tapping into a deep sense of disenchantment in the housing estates of the constituency.

Voters who spoke to

It appears the anger once directed at Fianna Fail has now turned into a feeling of frustration with Fine Gael and Labour.

Eamon Gilmore’s party face being beaten into sixth place, which would be a devastating result given the presence of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in the constituency.

EXPERIENCE

While Labour candidate Loraine Mulligan is competent and enthusiastic, her lack of political experience is being picked up on the doorsteps.

Similarly, Fine Gael’s Eamonn Coghlan has discovered that a by-election is a race that takes no prisoners.

While his name recognition is a plus on the canvass, voters are more focussed on looming water charges than Mr Coghlan’s exceptional athletics achievements. The senator does benefit from the Fine Gael electoral machine which is likely to be sent into overdrive in the dying hours of the campaign.

Without question, the dark horse is Independent candidate David Hall. The mortgage campaigner is a political rookie - but he does have an impressive record in fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.

The critical challenge facing Mr Hall is getting his supporters out to vote on Friday.

But the tide is very much flowing behind the Independent brand and, if transfers go in his favour, David Hall could be heading for the Dail.

Other candidates include Roderic O’Gorman (Green Party); John Kidd (Independent); Seán Lyons (Independent); and Daniel Boyne (Fis Nua).

hnews@herald.ie


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