Labour expected to take seat from Fianna Fáil
CONSTITUENCY PROFILE:IT SEEMS unimaginable now, but the 2007 election was marked by two Fianna Fáil candidates filling the first two seats in Dublin South Central. While that result clearly belied the constituency’s reputation as one of the most left-wing in the country, this campaign could finish with four out of the five seats being filled by left-of-centre parties.
The retirement of poll-topper Seán Ardagh has left the way clear for his 2007 Fianna Fáil running mate Michael Mulcahy to defend his seat without the distraction of a second party candidate. Hardly visible on the ground for three years, Mulcahy has re-emerged in recent months with fresh energy.
However, Fianna Fáil lost all its seats in the last local elections and things have hardly improved since then. Mulcahy is likely to struggle to retain his seat and his Houdini- like survival skills will once again be called into play.
Yet again, the Upton name is on the posters for Labour, but now it’s Henry Upton (31), nephew of outgoing TD Dr Mary Upton and eldest son of the late Pat Upton.
With Labour in the ascendant and Mary Upton well-regarded across the constituency, young Henry is regarded as a safe bet.
Running mate Eric Byrne, who famously lost out on a Dáil seat in 1992 by just five votes to Ben Briscoe, is also tipped to return to Leinster House. Byrne sits on Dublin City Council in Crumlin/ Kimmage at the centre of the constituency and should pick up many of Ardagh’s votes.
The third Labour candidate, Michael Conaghan, is a former lord mayor but his strongest areas, Ballyfermot and Inchicore, lie at one end of this constituency.
Fine Gael is running three candidates, one of whom, Colm Brophy, was imposed by party headquarters. Brophy’s council area lies partly outside the constituency in south Dublin.
Catherine Byrne, the sitting Fine Gael TD, is reportedly none too happy with the three-candidate strategy but should still come in comfortably. The Fine Gael slate is less balanced than that of Labour, with Byrne expected to significantly outpoll Brophy and the party’s third candidate, Cllr Ruairí McGinley. Another complication is that Peter O’Neill, a former Fine Gael councillor, is standing as an Independent. Consequently there is little chance of a second seat for Fine Gael, most observers think.
A year ago, Sinn Féin was languishing and its TD here, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, might have been at risk of losing his seat. Now however, Ó Snodaigh might even top the poll.
People Before Profit/United Left Alliance candidate Joan Collins has a name not easily forgotten and her barracking of Bertie Ahern outside the Dáil last month got her noticed. Collins is tipped to mop up the protest vote and is likely to be there or thereabouts for the last seat.
The Greens have not managed to establish a presence, partly because of changing candidates. Oisín Ó Almhain, a hospital pharmacist, stands this time.
Colm Callanan is standing for the Christian Solidarity Party for the fourth time, while Gerry Kelly is an Independent on a direct democracy ticket.
With Labour likely to pick up two seats, and FG and SF one apiece, the last should be a scrap between Mulcahy and Collins.
DUBLIN SOUTH CENTRAL: 5 SEATS
Sean Ardagh (FF), Michael Mulcahy (FF), Catherine Byrne (FG), Mary Upton (Lab), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF).
Michael Mulcahy (FF), Catherine Byrne (FG), Colm Brophy (FG), Henry Upton (Lab), Michael Conaghan (Lab), Eric Byrne (Lab), Ruairí McGinley (FG), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF), Óisín Ó hAlmhain (GP), Joan Collins (PBP/ULA), Gerry Kelly (Ind), Colm Callanan (CSP), Peter O’Neill (Ind)
Jobs, and in particular youth unemployment, are big issues in many areas that benefitted little from the Celtic Tiger and are now stagnating again. A lack of community facilities also gets mentioned on the doorsteps. Crime and anti-social behaviour is a problem in areas where unemployment is soaring.
VERDICT: FG 1, Lab 2, SF 1, PBP 1