Election 2020: Limerick City constituency profile
If there is a ‘Green wave’ nationally, it should wash through Limerick with election of Leddin
Fine Gael Senator and a former TD Kieran O’Donnell, who narrowly missed out on the fourth seat in the 2016 election, should be the heir apparent for Michael Noonan’s seat. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Limerick City (four seats)
Current: 1 FF, 1 SF, 1 FG, 1 Lab
Two things appear certain in this constituency: regular poll-topper Willie O’Dea will be re-elected for Fianna Fáil and there is a Fine Gael seat here in Limerick ,with party luminary and former leader Michael Noonan retiring from politics, leaving a solid vote for the party in the city.
Fine Gael Senator and a former TD Kieran O’Donnell, who narrowly missed out on the fourth seat in the 2016 election, should be the heir apparent for Noonan’s seat.
A second Fine Gael seat here seems unlikely for Noonan’s protege Maria Byrne, the councillor and former mayor, given that Noonan, with the exception of the 2011 election, was never a huge voter-getter, certainly not on the scale of O’Dea’s performances in Limerick over the decades.
It is down to a dogfight between four potential candidates for the remaining two seats: sitting deputies, Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan and Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan, newcomer Brian Leddin of the Green Party and Fianna Fáil’s James Collins, a member of the Limerick political dynasty.
Collins, a cousin of Niall who is seeking re-election in Limerick County, topped the poll in last year’s local elections when he was the city’s mayor. He was elected on the first count.
The O’Dea political machine in Limerick is a slick operation but he will have to send the kind of transfers he was passing on in the 2000s when Fianna Fáil last had two TDs here to get Collins elected. That could depend on Sinn Féin’s performance in the city this time around.
Strong Sinn Féin vote
There is traditionally a strong Sinn Féin vote in the city but the party did not perform well here in last year’s locals. The party’s vote collapsed with the loss of most of its outgoing councillors. This puts huge pressure on Quinlivan to hold on to his seat in this election.
Labour’s O’Sullivan, who squeaked in here in 2016, beating O’Donnell by just 338 votes, could be vulnerable from the Greens and Leddin, a first-time candidate who won the party’s first ever council seat in Limerick last year after 37 years of contesting. He came second in the poll.
If there is a “Green wave” nationally, it should wash through Limerick with the election of Leddin. The 38-year-old engineer comes from solid Limerick political stock: his mother Kathleen was an Independent councillor from 1999 to 2014 and served as mayor, an office that was also held by his late father Tim, who served as a Fine Gael councillor.
Two issues are set to dominate on the doorsteps in Limerick: healthcare and housing, with more than 2,000 people on Limerick’s housing waiting list.
The state of University Hospital Limerick is top of the election agenda as overcrowding in its emergency department is worst of any hospital in the State.
Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, Green 1, SF 1
Candidates: Kieran O’Donnell (FG), Maria Byrne (FG), Willie O’Dea (FF), James Collins (FF), Maurice Quinlivan (SF), Jan O’Sullivan (Lab), Brian Leddin (GP), Frankie Daly (Ind), Michael Ryan (Aontú), Jenny Blake (SD), Mary Cahillane (S-PBP), Rebecca Barrett (National Party)