herald

Friday 17 August 2018

After the tarnished Bertie era it's all grit and little glamour

NO Bertie Ahern. No Tony Gregory. No standout candidate. Dublin Central was once the hub of political big-wigs but this time the battle will be very different.

The streets that once belonged to Ahern's Drumcondra Mafia are now up for grabs. Those grappling for control are a varied bunch, ranging from the ex-Taoiseach's understudy, Cyprian Brady, to a potential face of Fine Gael's future, Senator Paschal Donohoe.

As a constituency that once enjoyed the glitz and glamour of Bertie Ahern showmanship, it is now scarred by his legacy.

It's not surprising that the Ahern dynasty has had its arm twisted by Fianna Fail HQ into allowing his constituency rival, Mary Fitzpatrick, on to the ticket. She outscored Brady on first preferences in the 2007, despite being "shafted" by Ahern.

Brady received less than 3pc of the vote but was carried across the line by transfers from Ahern, who had nearly two quotas.

Revenge

However, if revenge is a dish best served, then Fitzpatrick's has been in the freezer ever since. She triumphed in the local elections and is now the party's number one candidate in the constituency.

However she still faces an uphill battle. The only certainty here appears to be that Labour's Joe Costello will top the poll and Fine Gael will retake a seat for this first time since Jim Mitchell lost in 2002.

Enda Kenny handed responsibility for recovering the party's standing in the area to Paschal Donohoe as far back as 2002.

He was hugely disappointed to miss out in the 2009 by-election but the profile he gained from that will benefit him now.

With those two safely through, the battle will begin between Independents, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald. Maureen O'Sullivan won the seat left behind by her friend Tony Gregory in the 2009 by-election but has had a relatively quiet time in Leinster House since.

She is one of six independents running in the constituency. However she could lose significant votes to Christy Burke, who was also close to Tony Gregory. The ex-Sinn Fein councillor will also hope to pull some of Mary Lou McDonald's votes. On a non-disastrous day for Fianna Fail, Fitzpatrick could make her long-awaited breakthrough, otherwise McDonald will be fighting with Labour's Aine Clancy for the final seat. All this could result in a nail-biting finish for the final two seats between O'Sullivan, McDonald, Fitzpatrick and Clancy.

PREDICTION: Costello (Lab), Donohoe (FG), O'Sullivan (Ind) and McDonald (SF)

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