Election 2020: Dublin West constituency profile
Green councillor has chance with Burton, Coppinger and Donnelly in dog fight for last seat
Dublin West is home to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and a former tánaiste in Joan Burton, both of whom are running again. File photograph: Tom Honan
Dublin West (four seats)
Current: 1 FG, 1 FF, 1 S-PBP, 1 Labour
A true heavyweight constituency, Dublin West is home to the sitting Taoiseach in Leo Varadkar and a former tánaiste in Joan Burton, both of whom are running again. Varadkar’s re-election is, of course, a formality. Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers is not yet 30, but following his victory last time out has been fast-tracked into a front bench position by leader Micheál Martin. Chambers is capable, if not magnetic, but the old Lenihan Fianna Fáil voting base in the constituency should be enough to see him home comfortably.
Fine Gael has never really threatened to add a second seat in the constituency in addition to the one held by the Taoiseach since his election in 2007, despite throwing considerable resources – and former Olympic athlete Eamonn Coghlan – at the constituency over the years. The biggest impediment to Cllr Emer Currie, Varadkar’s running mate, bucking this trend is obviously the presence of Burton and another politician with national profile, Solidarity’s Ruth Coppinger, in the remaining seats. Also blocking her way, and presenting a clear and present danger to both Coppinger and Burton, will be Green Party candidate Cllr Roderic O’Gorman, who has been running in elections in the constituency since 2004.
O’Gorman has outperformed his party’s national performance in the last two general elections but has never really been in the shake-up for a seat come polling day. If he can successfully court the wealthier, centre-left vote that has traditionally coalesced around Burton, he is in with a strong shout. However, Burton will not be easy to turn over, despite the lack of momentum around the Labour brand.
The last seat was seen as a tussle between former Burton and Coppinger. However, if Sinn Féin’s polling numbers are borne out on Saturday, it is hard to see how the party’s candidate, Paul Donnelly, will not come into the equation. Burton, then Labour leader, benefitted from a major resource push by the party in the closing days of 2016’s campaign when it seemed her seat was in danger. The electorate also seemed to respond to a threat to their sitting minister. The party has no such resources to dedicate to her now, and of course she is no longer a minister.
If Coppinger can stay ahead of her, and O’Gorman attracts Labour-friendly centre-left first preferences, Burton is the most likely candidate to be squeezed out by a strong showing from Donnelly. A wild card here is Peter Casey, who may siphon off some anti-Government votes from both Coppinger and Donnelly, but he is unlikely to make a meaningful difference in the final reckoning.
On a local level, candidates will have to handle the thorny issue of BusConnects, balancing the utility offered by an improved bus network against the perceived impact on local and residential amenities. Co-living will be another rallying point, with permission just given for a significant development in Castleknock, as will the construction of schools and other facilities for growing families in the area.
Other declared candidates include Aengus Ó Maoláin (Social Democrats) and Edward McManus (Aontú).
Prediction: Varadkar (FG), Chambers (FF), O’Gorman (GP), one from Burton (Lab), Coppinger (S-PBP) and Donnelly (SF)
Candidates: Leo Varadkar (FG), Emer Currie (FG), Jack Chambers (FF), Roderic O’Gorman (GP), Joan Burton (Lab), Ruth Coppinger (S-PBP), Paul Donnelly (SF), Aengus Ó Maoláin (SD), Edward McManus (Aontú), Peter Casey (Ind), Stephen O’Loughlin (Ind), Seán O’Leary (Ind)