Election 2020: Dublin Fingal constituency profile
Just months after byelection Green candidate who succeeded then will do so again
Darragh O’Brien should easily hold his seat and is likely to top the poll again as he did in the 2016 general election. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Dublin Fingal (five seats)
Current: 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 Lab, 1 SF, 1 GP
Voters in Dublin Fingal only went to the polls on November 29th, 2019, in the byelection to fill the Dáil vacancy created by the election of Clare Daly of Independents 4 Change to the European Parliament.
The sprawling five-seater is a commuter constituency with a rural heartland in its north and east. As well as towns such as Swords, Malahide, Portmarnock, Skerries, Donabate, Rush, Lusk and Balbriggan, Dublin Fingal also has swathes of land used for market gardening, taking in areas such as the Naul, Garristown and Ballyboughal.
Traditionally, the constituency’s voting trends have been more in line with the so-called “rest of Leinster” constituencies rather than those in and around Dublin city. The issues are largely similar to those in other commuter areas: a lack of housing and pressure on public transport and school places.
On a very poor turnout of only 26 per cent in the byelection, the Green Party’s Joe O’Brien won the old Daly seat with 23 per cent of first-preference votes and will be well-placed to hold on in the general election.
O’Brien is based in Skerries and his efforts to keep the seat will likely be helped by the fact that Labour’s Brendan Ryan, also based in Skerries, has decided not to stand again. Swords-based councillor Duncan Smith, who came third in the election behind O’Brien and Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee, will hope to hold the Labour Party seat.
The departure of Swords-based Daly opens up a lot of votes around Fingal’s county town. Fingal councillor Dean Mulligan is Daly’s candidate and is also based in Swords.
With Daly off the pitch, Sinn Féin’s high-profile health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly, hoping to hold the seat she won in 2016, could benefit from more left-wing votes being in play.
Darragh O’Brien, the Fianna Fáil housing spokesman, should easily hold his seat and is likely to top the poll again as he did in the 2016 general election. Fianna Fáil strategists hope Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, who was involved in controversy during the byelection campaign over derogatory comments she had made in the past about the Traveller community, can take a second seat for the party. A national swing towards Fianna Fáil, as well as tight vote management, could help.
Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell is his party’s standard-bearer in the constituency but local canvassers report his claim for up to €15,000 damages following a collision in 2015 has damaged him. Farrell was awarded €2,500 for his injuries but judge Michael Coghlan said there was “little or no notation to back up a claim of significant whiplash” and he considered it “a very minor injury”. Farrell had said the collision had left him with neck and shoulder pain which affected his professional and personal life for up to 18 months.
Senator James Reilly is also running for Fine Gael, and there is likely to be only one seat for the party in Dublin Fingal. Interestingly, Reilly has posters up in Farrell’s home base of Malahide – indicating the two will fight it out without carving up the constituency between them.
Prediction: O’Brien (FF), Farrell or Reilly (FG), O’Brien (GP) and two from O’Reilly (SF), Smith (Lab) and Clifford-Lee (FF).
Candidates: Lorraine Clifford-Lee (FF), Darragh O’Brien (FF), Alan Farrell (FG), James Reilly (FG), Louise O’Reilly (SF), Duncan Smith (Lab), Joe O’Brien (GP), Paul Mulville (SD), Terry Kelleher (S-PBP), Oghenetano John Uwhumiakpor (S-PBP), Glenn Brady (Ind), Dean Mulligan (Ind), Tony Murphy (Ind), Alistair Smith (United People), Sandra Sweetman (Ind), Gemma O’Doherty (Ind)