Fianna Fáil will struggle to take second seat in Limerick

 

CONSTITUENCY PROFILE:WHAT A difference a few years makes.

Willie O’Dea has bossed Limerick politics for the best part of two decades, consistently topping the poll and recording huge surpluses. In the last election his legendary electoral machine pulled in an extraordinary 19,000 first preference votes, more than 10,000 over the quota.

In this election it is likely to be a much different story. Fianna Fáil will struggle to take a second seat, while O’Dea’s large personal vote looks set to be severely dented. The former minister for defence is still likely to poll well but his running mate Peter Power won’t have the same number of transfers from O’Dea that got him over the line in 2007.

There is one certainty in this constituency: at least one sitting TD will lose their seat due to a redrawing of the boundaries. The new constituency of Limerick City – it replaces the old Limerick East – sees the number of seats drop from five to four.

And the party at most risk of losing a seat is Fianna Fáil.

By contrast, Fine Gael, which received just half the vote of Fianna Fáil in the last election, looks set to win two seats.

The party’s finance spokesman Michael Noonan is favourite to top the poll, while party colleague Kieran O’Donnell is looking good for a second seat. Vote management, however, will be crucial as there is a serious battle on for the final seat. The pair divided up the constituency well on the last occasion and, by all accounts, have done so again.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan can expect to retain her seat, but the party’s hopes of taking a second seat in this crowded constituency look to be fading. Local polls indicate that Cllr Joe Leddin has not been pulling in enough support to take a final seat – although he could benefit from transfers from other left-wing candidates.

Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan is another candidate vying for the fourth seat. He polled poorly in the last election, although the redrawing of the boundaries is likely to help him.

Other candidates in the mix include Cian Prendiville of the Socialist Party and Independent Kevin Kiley, who is also a former Fine Gael mayor. All their transfers will be important in determining the final shake-down.

As of now Fine Gael looks to have the best hopes of taking the last seat.

Abysmal vote-management has meant that Fianna Fáil has consistently underperformed in winning seats here.

This, combined with a freefall in support for the party, makes Peter Power look like a prime casualty.

LIMERICK CITY: 4 SEATS

OUTGOING TDS.
Willie O'Dea (FF), Peter Power (FF), Michael Noonan (FG), Kieran O'Donnell (FG), Jan O'Sullivan (Lab)

CANDIDATES:
Willie O'Dea (FF), Peter Power (FF), Michael Noonan (FG), Kieran O'Donnell (FG), Jan O'Sullivan (Lab), Joe Leddin (Lab), Sheila Cahill (GP), Maurice Quinlivan (SF), Conor O'Donoghue (CSP), Cian Prendiville (SP), Kevin Anthony Kiley (Ind), Matt Larkin (Ind), Denis Riordan (Ind).

LOCAL ISSUES:
The loss of 1,900 jobs from Dell impacted heavily on the city which already had some of the highest levels of joblessness in Ireland. Long-promised regeneration of areas such as Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra Weston are key priorities for communities. Connectivity of Shannon Airport to major hubs such as Heathrow is of crucial importance to the region.

VERDICT:FF 1, FG 2, Lab 1