Thursday 17 January 2019

FF face an uphill struggle to hang on to just one seat

Dublin South East traditionally spreads its vote widely across all the main parties but is on the verge of reversing that trend.

Both Fine Gael and Labour have targeted the constituency for bringing in second seats at the expense of Fianna Fail and The Green Party.

The spread in voter preference is probably explained by the diverse nature of the constituency which takes in everything from the working class parts of Ringsend to the multi-million euro Donnybrook mansions.

Apart from the issues such as unemployment and the economy that are affecting every area, locals also have an interest in the planned Poolbeg incinerator.

Despite persistant accusations of nimbyism, John Gormley will be hoping that his total opposition to the project will gain him some votes. But he does appear to be the obvious big casualty.

Not since the haughty days of Garret FitzGerald has Fine Gael held two seats in the Dublin South East but that is now a real possibility. Lucinda Creighton arrived in a blaze of glory in 2007 when the party was at a low ebb and has shot to national fame.

The Mayo woman is not the most popular lady in Fine Gael HQ and it had been rumoured that efforts were made to knock her off her perch by enticing ex-PD Michael McDowell on to the ticket. Instead, she has been teamed up with another young gun, Cllr Eoghan Murphy.

Nobody in the local Fine Gael branch would describe them as the best of buddies but the strategy does appear to be paying off.

The question now is whether Creighton should voluntarily cede some of her vote to Murphy in order to make a final push for the two seats. However, she is unlikely to be overjoyed at the prospect as there is always a risk that such a move could backfire on her.

Labour are faced with a similar problem as Ruairi Quinn is all but certain to retain his seat while questions remain about the status of Cllr Kevin Humphreys.

The party hopes that Quinn's vote will be large enough to give Humphreys the final seat. He is likely to be fighting it out with Gormley and FF's Chris Andrews who topped the 2007 poll.

Andrews will be hoping that his significant personal vote will outscore the anti-Fianna Fail sentiment. The elements in his favour are his vocal opposition of Brian Cowen, the fact that he is the single party candidate and his good track record on local issues -- but Fianna Fail would consider it a notably victory if he could hang on.

Other candidates in the constituency include colourful councillor Mannix Flynn, economist Paul Sommerville and quirky Independent Dylan Haskins.

Prediction: Quinn (Lab), Creighton (FG), Murphy (FG) and Andrews (FF) ... by a neck

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