Election 2020: Kildare South constituency profile
Battle for last seat expected to be a tussle between Labour and Fianna Fáil
Kildare South: The change from a three-seater to a four-seater here has been nullified by the election of Seán Ó Fearghaíl as Ceann Comhairle. File photograph: James Forde/The Irish Times
Kildare South (four seats)
Current: 2 FF, 1 FG
An extra seat being added to a constituency always promises change. For this election, Kildare South has moved from being a three-seater to a four-seater. In theory that is.
The change has been nullified by the election of Seán Ó Fearghaíl to the position of Ceann Comhairle. His automatic re-election reduces the constituency to a three-seater.
The last time, Fianna Fáil had a good day, taking two of the three seats in the constituency, with Fine Gael chairman Martin Heydon taking the other.
The sitting Fianna Fáil TD, Fiona O’Loughlin, has a really strong electoral base in Newbridge and should be re-elected.
The battle here will revolve around the third seat, which is vacant at the moment.
It looks like it will be a tussle between Labour candidate Cllr Mark Wall and Cllr Suzanne Doyle of Fianna Fáil, a protégée of Ó Fearghaíl. Fianna Fáil got 1.5 quotas here in 2016 compared to 0.5 for Wall. Good vote management between its two candidates (we are not sure if that was an actual strategy given their keen rivalry) ensured they were comfortably elected. The potential for transfers is limited in this constituency so any candidate hoping for election needs to be closer to the quota on the first count.
Wall and his running mate, Aoife Breslin, pulled nearly 4,000 votes out of Athy in the local elections last May but will need to garner votes in the Newbridge and Kildare areas if he is to be a contender.
Sinn Féin had a respectable vote in 2016. Cllr Patricia Ryan is the candidate but the party seems to have suffered some slippage in support here.
There are two potential dark horses in the race. Former Fine Gael candidate, Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy is running as an Independent and topped the poll in Newbridge in the locals. She is running on an anti-corruption ticket.
A former senior officer in the Army Ranger Wing is also running. Cathal Berry, is a former commandant who led the elite army unit during its mission in Chad. He is also a qualified medical doctor and is campaigning on recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces. Because its HQ is at Curragh there is a large number of army personnel living in the constituency. Berry may also benefit from living in the part of Co Laois around Portarlington, with over 10,000 votes, that was added to Kildare South to make it into a four-seater.
The other issues are the expected ones for a dormitory county. They include transport, poor roads, commuting difficulties, broadband, unemployment in the south of the county, agriculture and bloodstock.
Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, LP 1
Candidates: Cathal Berry (Ind), Suzanne Doyle (FF), Linda Hayden (Soc Dem), Martin Heydon (FG), Ronan Maher (GP), Fiona McLoughlin Healy (Ind), Anita Mhic Gib (Aontú), Fiona O’Loughlin (FF), Patricia Ryan (SF), Róisín Uí Bhroin (S-PBP), Mark Wall (Lab).