Tuesday 25 October 2016

With five seats up for grabs, the only given is the return of SF's Sean Crowe

Fine Gael's Colm Brophy
Fine Gael's Colm Brophy
Katherine Zappone (Tom Burke)

The Dublin South-West constituency was home to both a cabinet minister and a junior finance minister around this time five years ago.

Now, two weeks out from the General Election, neither politician's name is on the ballot paper.

Former Communications Minister and Labour Party TD Pat Rabbitte slung his hook and called a day on national politics, while Brian Hayes, the one-time Fine Gael junior finance minister, is now dividing his time between Brussels and Dublin as an MEP.

In the meantime, the constituency gained Paul Murphy, an Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD in the 2014 by-election. How the votes will fall in this newly-enlarged constituency is anyone's guess.

Dublin South-West now takes in several thousand new voters from the middle class areas of Rathfarnham and Knocklyon and stretches to the outer reaches of Tallaght.

Ahead of this month's vote, political minds of all hues are finding it difficult to predict who will fill the five Dail seats once the votes are counted.

The only given is the return of Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe, and Gerry Adams' party is hoping to secure another seat but with South Dublin County Mayor Sarah Holland running, however, this is unlikely.

Mr Hayes had a strong vote last time round and, with Fine Gael hovering around 30pc in the opinion polls, the party will be confident of a seat once the ballots are counted.

The party is fielding three candidates: Colm Brophy, Anne-Marie Dermody and Karen Warren.

Mr Brophy and Ms Dermody - both councillors - have locked horns in the constituency for the first seat but Fine Gael insiders have said that the former was winning the battle.

Mr Brophy is the most likely of the two to become a TD at this stage of the campaign.

Fine Gael is hopeful of two seats, but the second seat will likely to be hotly contested by Fianna Fail's John Lahart, who has been given a free run of the constituency.

This means Mr Lahart has a lot of ground to cover for a councillor who disappointed the party with just 8pc of the vote in the by-election two years ago.

Fianna Fail may rue not putting party stalwart Charlie O'Connor on the ticket.

However, there is traditionally a Fianna Fail seat in the constituency and if Micheal Martin's party gets a bounce before polling day, Mr Lahart should become a TD.

Socialist TD Paul Murphy is facing a court date this year over allegations of false imprisonment stemming from protests in Jobstown last year.

Mr Murphy is well-placed to take a seat but will certainly not receive the massive 27pc of the vote he received during the by-election.


First-time TD Eamonn Maloney landed a seat with Labour but quit over the party's constituency strategy and is now running as an Independent.

He is unlikely to be elected but will damage Labour's chance of a seat as Mr Maloney has a strong personal vote in the Tallaght end of the constituency.

Labour is fielding councillors Pamela Kearns and Mick Duff with the Templeogue-based female candidate seen as the party's best chance.

Burton's party hopes Ms Kearns will get over the line on the back of Fine Gael transfers if the Coalition's vote pact is implemented - but on the ground sources have said there was little evidence of either parties working together for votes.

Senator Katherine Zappone, who was appointed to the Seanad by Taoiseach Kenny, is running as an Independent and is expected to do well.

Ms Zappone has built a strong profile over the last five years through her community work in Jobstown and her campaigning for the same-sex marriage referendum.

A good outside bet is Renua councillor Ronan McMahon, who secured a good vote in the by-election as an Independent candidate.

However, a lot of his support in the local elections was based in Dublin South Central. Overall, it is expected two of the five seats will go to the left and the other three will go to the established parties.

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