Fingal profile: Rising population sees increase in seats
Constituency profile: Independents may make strong gains in the suburbs
Part of the capital, yet somewhat different, as its councillors proved when recently vetoing proposals for a directly elected Dublin mayor, Fingal County Council is a unique mix.
It takes in Castleknock on the city’s doorstep, as well as Blanchardstown, but also includes the mainly rural areas of north Co Dublin.
The huge increase in the county’s population in the pre-boom and boom years meant it was left short when it came to representatives at council level, but this was rectified in the most recent local government changes.
The outgoing council has 24 members; the incoming council will have 40, the biggest increase of any local authority in the country. Voters could be forgiven for thinking the local election literature more resembles a race card rather than election leaflets, given the amount of candidates advertising themselves.
The new breakdown of seats gives the Swords ward, comprising the county town and its environs, as well as the area around Dublin Airport, nine seats. That is up from five, and makes it the biggest of all five of the council’s local electoral areas.
Another three electoral areas have eight seats, all also increased from five: Mulhuddart, which includes areas such as Blanchardstown, The Ward and Corduff; Malahide-Howth, which also takes in Sutton, Kinsealy and Balgriffin; and Balbriggan, the mixed rural-suburban ward including Rush, Skerries, Lusk, Garristown, Ballyboughal and Loughshinny.
The only town council in the county, Balbriggan, is being abolished as part of Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan’s local government reforms.
The Castleknock ward, which also takes in parts of Lucan, has gone from four to seven seats. Fingal has the second largest population of any local authority in the State and its average age profile is 33.
It is mostly suburban commuter territory, and candidates and councillors out knocking on doors say the issues coming up are the same as those nationally: that voters have had enough charges and taxes levied on them, particularly property and water, coupled with an air of apathy with politics in many cases.
This is probably acutely felt by the many commuting young couples who bought houses in many of Fingal’s estates during the boom, some of whom are likely to be still in negative equity.
There are a number of local issues, such as the long-running saga of where to build a €500 million sewage plant.
Three sites had been shortlisted for the facility – Annsbrook and Newtowncorduff, near Lusk, both with an outfall near Loughshinny, north of Rush, and Clonshaugh, near Dublin Airport.