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.
A decision was made last year to build at Clonshaugh, with an outflow planned for Portmarnock, near Ireland’s Eye.
An issue in Swords is quality transport links with the city, especially since Metro North was shelved by the Government.
While helped by the increase in the council’s size, local Labour sources say they will be doing well to hold their nine seats, and claim local councillors such as Tom Kelleher in Swords and Ken Farrell in Lusk have a track record that may help them buck the national trend.
The Socialist Party has long had a strong presence in Fingal, taking in Joe Higgins’s area of Dublin West and Clare Daly’s stronghold in Swords. The pair split over Daly’s association with Mick Wallace in 2012 and she is no longer aligned with the Socialist Party.
However, she is sponsoring two candidates in the Swords ward, Ken Doyle and Declan McCool, and it will be keenly watched to see if her huge personal popularity helps bring them in.
The three outgoing Socialist councillors are standing again with Eugene Coppinger in Swords, Ruth Coppinger in Mulhuddart (she is also contesting the Dublin West byelection, as is Fianna Fáil councillor David McGuinness) and Matthew Waine in Castleknock.
Given the strength of Labour and the Socialist Party in Swords and west Dublin, Sinn Féin has traditionally struggled in areas that would usually be considered fertile territory.
It will hope to make inroads in the enlarged council with candidates such as Phillip Lynam in Swords. Paul Donnelly, who lost a council seat in 2009, is also tipped to take a seat for Sinn Féin in Mulhuddart.
Fianna Fáil had a bad day out in 2009, winning just four seats, but Malahide-based party councillor Eoghan O’Brien says it should come back with about eight seats or more.
Outgoing mayor Kieron Dennison, a Mulhuddart-based Fine Gael councillor who is also hoping to contest the Dublin West byelection, hopes his party can increase its level of seats, from the six won in 2009 (although Ann Devitt later became an Independent) to 10 or more.
Independents are on a high in the polls nationally and there are three on the outgoing council.
The Independent vote could manifest itself as an even stronger showing for candidates of the hard left, but there are a range of non-party candidates standing across the county.
Full list of candidates
|Howth Malahide||O'Callaghan, Cian||(Ind)|
|Howth Malahide||O'Brien, Eoghan||(FF)|
|Howth Malahide||Woods, Aileen||(FF)|
|Howth Malahide||Healy, David||(GP)|
|Howth Malahide||Dunne, Judy||(Lab)|
|Howth Malahide||McDonagh, Brian||(Lab)|
|Howth Malahide||Lavin, Anthony||(FG)|
|Howth Malahide||O'Toole, Marie||(FG)|
|Howth Malahide||Redmond, Keith||(FG)|
|Howth Malahide||Ni Laoi, Daire||(SF)|
|Howth Malahide||Szczecinski, Lech||(Ind)|
|Howth Malahide||O'Connor, David||(Ind)|
|Howth Malahide||Guerin, Jimmy||(Ind)|
|Balbriggan||Fay Brady, Jean||(FG)|