Harry McGee’s final seat prediction for Election 2020

Fianna Fáil to emerge on top with Green Party in line to hit double figures

My final seat prediction:

  • Fianna Fáil: 53
  • Fine Gael: 38
  • Sinn Féin: 28
  • Labour Party: 8
  • Green Party: 14
  • Social Democrats: 3
  • Sol-PBP: 2
  • Others: 14
  • NOTE: 80 seats required to form a government

Build your own coalition government based on my predictions. Go here to form your own government!

Predicting election campaigns in Ireland is a guessing game that sometimes presents itself as an inexact science. Opinion polls and the results of secondary elections such as council elections, byelections and European elections give you the direction of the wind. But the system we have in Ireland of multi-seat constituencies allied with transferable votes makes it a very difficult exercise to carry out with any degree of accuracy.

No tally taken prior to voting could have told you that Bríd Smith of People Before Profit would win the last seat in Dublin South-Central in 2016, by less than 40 votes, from Fianna Fáil's Catherine Ardagh, relying wholly on the distribution of a tiny surplus that had got Joan Collins over the line in a previous count.

Usually, there are predictors. For this general election it was last year's round of local and European elections, as well as the autumn opinion polls, plus the November byelections. But they have all been thrown out the window since the start of the campaign. In Lazarus fashion, Sinn Féin has confounded expectations and become the party for the strong prevailing mood of the electorate: and that is change. Nobody foresaw it, not even Sinn Féin. The party now lacks candidates in constituencies where it might have won a second seat. Fine Gael has tumbled down. Fianna Fáil looks like it's treading water a bit but there might be a latent support there. Of the rest, only the Greens look stronger, but outside Dublin, they remain niche.

The 33rd Dáil will have an extra two seats compared with the outgoing Dáil, bringing the total up to 160. That means extra seats in Cavan-Monaghan, Kildare South and Dublin Central. In addition, Laois and Offaly combine into one constituency, with five seats overall rather than six.

In addition, in Dún Laoghaire Fine Gael had three seats out of four in the last election, by virtue of the fact that outgoing Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett was a TD there. Kildare South will be an effective three-seater (rather than a four-seater), as outgoing Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is automatically re-elected there. 

Here is my tally, broken down by party and where I see they may gain some seats and lose others.

FINE GAEL

2016: 50 seats

Possible gains

1. Dublin Mid-West: This would be a technical gain as the party has no seat here after losing the byelection for Frances Fitzgerald's former seat. Emer Higgins should safely take one seat out of four and the party might even consider itself in with a shout for a second seat, although that is a long shot.

2. Cork North-Central: This is another technical gain as there is a vacant seat. Fine Gael has no seat there since Dara Murphy's resignation in December. Colm Burke should easily win one seat for the party in the four-seat constituency.

3. Tipperary: The target is seat held by Independent Séamus Healy. Fine Gael has gone out on a limb by picking two new and relatively unknown candidates. It had a full quota in 2016 but terrible vote management and candidate selection lost it its seat. The party's strong local election performance should provide it with the basis for a seat here at the expense of an Independent. Was it a mistake by Mary Newman Julian not to contest the local elections, unlike her running mate Garret Ahearn? Could they repeat the mistakes of 2016? The mood has darkened considerably here.

4. Cavan-Monaghan: There is an extra seat in this constituency. Fianna Fáíl already has two and is unlikely to win three. Sinn Féin has traditionally been not as strong in Cavan as in Monaghan. But the surge in the poll now means that Pauline Tully could edge out Fine Gael's TP O'Reilly for the last seat. This would be a big body blow.

5. Cork North-West: The target is a Fianna Fáil seat. A one-point increase needed in vote share compared with 2016. John Paul O'Shea ran as an Independent in 2016 and did well. Now under the Fine Gael banner will run Fianna Fáíl close.

6. Cork East: Target is a Sinn Féin seat. A two percentage-point increase in vote share is required compared with 2016. Again a close battle with Fianna Fáil looked in prospect to topple a precarious Sinn Féin seat. Pa O'Driscoll is based in the northern end of the constituency and while the teacher has a high profile and is a strong campaigner, he might struggle for transfers in the latter counts. On balance, it's hard to see Sinn Féin not holding the seat, even though the party is not showing as strongly in Munster.

7. Dublin-Rathdown: Shane Ross is the target. A five percentage-point increase in vote share required compared with 2016. Neale Richmond will need to put in a huge performance to create one of the shocks of the day by taking out Ross. And now, it is not only Ross but also Fianna Fáil's Shay Brennan he has to worry about.

8. Kerry: The target is a Sinn Féin seat. A five-point increase is required. The Sinn Féin seat is no longer in such danger. Fine Gael's candidate Michael Kennelly comes from a well-known Listowel GAA family. Fianna Fáil looks marginally stronger though after the local elections but there is a neater geographical divide between Kennelly and sitting TD Brendan Griffin. May be moot now if Pa Daly can harness all of the Martin Ferris vote.

9. Longford-Westmeath: The target is a Labour Party seat. Another ding-dong battle between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for a vulnerable seat, this time the one vacated by Labour's Willie Penrose. It will boil down to be a bout between two Longford candidates. Fianna Fáíl is stronger in the constituency overall but Fine Gael is stronger in Longford (it won 39 per cent of the vote in last year's local elections. Its candidate Micheál Carrigy has a high profile. A bellwether constituency. Don't rule out Sinn Féin.

10. Galway East: A five-point gain is required to take a seat off Seán Canney. This will be a local battle, between the outgoing Tuam Independent and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil rivals from the same area. Fine Gael's Peter Roche performed strongly in the local elections but Fianna Fáil had a big day in Tuam, taking four out of seven. Again very, very tight. But on opinion poll evidence you would have to favour Fianna Fáil, or even Canney holding.

11. Louth: A two-point increase is required. The target is Independent Peter Fitzpatrick. Fine Gael has only one seat here after Fitzpatrick's resignation from the party in 2018. Dundalk-based councillor John McGahon will be one of five jousting for the last seat and might just come up short.

12. Limerick City: The target is a Labour seat. A five-point rise on 2016 is required. Others, Fianna Fáil and the Greens, look stronger in the battle for the final seat with Jan O'Sullivan.

Potential losses

1. Dún Laoghaire: to Fianna Fáil/Greens. A certainty. Fine Gael holds three seats out of four because outgoing ceann comhairle Seán Barrett was automatically returned in 2016. He is not standing this time. The party won 25 per cent of the vote in 2016. Now it's looking at the dismal scenario of returning only one seat here.

2. Dublin North-West: to Fianna Fáíl. Probability is high. Noel Rock is a very doughty campaigner but he is up against it this time. He narrowly saw off Fianna Fáil's Paul McAuliffe in 2016 but his rival is in a much stronger position now, and Fianna Fáil had a very strong local election here. Sinn Féin has been on the slide here but it would be hard to see Dessie Ellis's fall being so dramatic as to lose.

3. Galway West: to Greens or Fianna Fáil. Probability is medium to high. Like Clare the party managed to retain two seats with only 24 per cent of the vote, and relied heavily on Labour transfers. Its two TDs, Seán Kyne and Hildegarde Naughton, are high profile but would need to increase the party's share of the vote against parties whose support levels are rising.

4. Dublin Bay South: to the Labour Party. Probability low to medium. The second Fine Gael seat could be in play here if Labour's Kevin Humphreys gains traction. A strong Green performance could also impact. If the Irish Times opinion poll for Fine Gael is correct, this might make one of its seats in this "true blue" constituency vulnerable.

5. Wexford: to Independent or Sinn Féin. Paul Kehoe clung on in 2016 will face a challenge again. Sinn Féin's Johnny Mythen performed well in the recent byelection and the party is flying in the polls. Verona Murphy's candidacy could also have an impact on Kehoe.

6. Clare: to Independent/Fianna Fáíl. The party won less votes than Fianna Fáíl in 2016 but still managed to retain both seats thanks to Labour transfers. Fianna Fáil seems to have a very strong ticket and should win a second seat. The decision by Michael Harty not to run will be a boon to it. Fine Gael's only vulnerability is losing to another Independent candidate in the shape of Michael McNamara.

7. Dublin South-Central: to Greens/Fianna Fáil. Catherine Byrne has survived here against all the odds but this might be one election too many. Fianna Fáíl looks strong for a seat as do the Greens. Something will have to give and it could be Fine Gael.

8. Meath East: to Sinn Féin. Darren O'Rourke was not all that far away in 2016 and will not be all that far away this time either. Many of those who live on the Dublin side of the constituency are commuters who are one of the big groups clamouring for change. Regina Doherty's seat, in particular, is vulnerable.

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FIANNA FÁIL

2016: 44 seats

Possible gains

1. Dún Laoghaire: There is an extra seat. Needs a one per cent increase in vote share compared with the 2016 general election. Last time out this was a three-seater because outgoing Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett was a TD. Fianna Fáil do have a quota so should pick up a seat. It is running two candidates, Mary Hanafin and Cormac Devlin and there is a danger they could cancel each other out. The Greens look strong for a seat here.

2. Dublin North-West: Target is a Fine Gael seat. Needs a one per cent rise in support from the 2016 general election. Finglas-based Paul McAuliffe topped the poll amid a strong Fianna Fáil performance in the local elections and is current Lord Mayor. Fine Gael's Noel Rock relied hugely on Labour transfers to pip him last time out and he looks very vulnerable.

3. Dublin Central: There is an extra seat in this constituency. Needs a five percentage-point increase since 2016: This moves from a three- to four-seat constituency. Mary Fitzpatrick would need to add five points to her 11 per cent showing in 2016 though she performed very strongly in her own electoral area in the local elections. Mary Lou McDonald will top the poll and the Greens also look as if they they may pip Garry Gannon of the Social Democrats.

4. Dublin South-Central: One per cent increase required compared with 2016. Target is Independent or People Before Profit seats, or perhaps Fine Gael. Catherine Ardagh lost out by less than 40 votes in 2016. She has had a high profile since as her party's leader in the Seanad and Fianna Fáil did well in the local elections. Only seat safe here is Sinn Féin and she is an odds-on favourite to regain the seat once held by her late father, Seán Ardagh. Sinn Féin would have won two seats here if it ran two candidates.

5. Clare: Target is an Independent or Fine Gael seat. Two percentage-point rise required since 2016: Fine Gael's second seat here was very vulnerable until Independent Michael Harty announced he would not contest the election. Fianna Fáil seems to have got its formula right. Cathal Crowe is a strong candidate who did himself no harm with his boycott of the proposed Royal Irish Constabulary event. It had five per cent more votes at 30 per cent than Fine Gael in 2016 but won only seat, while its rival won two. It looks as if Fine Gael will be the loser here, with Independent and former Labour TD Michael McNamara and Green Róisín Garvey in the hunt for the fourth seat.

6. Galway East: Target is an Independent seat held by Seán Canney: Six percentage-point increase needed compared with 2016: Tuam is going to be the battleground here. Canney is defending a seat he won handily. The other two seats are in the southeastern Loughrea-Portumna axis held by Anne Rabbitte of Fianna Fáil and in the Athenry-Gort/Kinvara southern axis held by Fine Gael's Ciarán Cannon. The Independent brand around Tuam, so strong from 2014-2016, receded in last year's local elections. Fine Gael has chosen a strong councillor, Peter Roche who topped the poll in Tuam. But Fianna Fáil won four out of seven council seats in Tuam, and that might give it an edge. It has chosen Cllr Donagh Killilea, a son of the late TD and MEP Mark Killilea. He's come late into the race though but at this stage he might be ahead of Roche. Don't underestimate Canney.

7. Kerry: Target is a Sinn Féin seat. An eight percentage-point increase needed here from 2016. Sinn Féin was vulnerable but not any more. Fianna Fáil had very good local elections and the addition of Tralee councillor Norma Foley gives it a very strong ticket and may dent the impact Michael Healy-Rae had in the northern part of the constituency in 2016. Norma Moriarty is comfortably placed in the Iveragh Peninsula in the south while sitting TD John Brassil is from Ballyheigue, geographically close to Foley. Fine Gael has a strong Listowel-based councillor Mike Kennelly as its second candidate. But Pa Daly, seen as a beaten docket a month ago, is now back in the frame for Sinn Féin.

8. Longford-Westmeath: Target is a Labour seat. Seven percentage-point increase needed from 2016: Fianna Fáil is the largest party in the entire constituency but the last seat may turn out to be a battle between Fianna Fáíl's Joe Flaherty and Micheál Carrigy for the "Longford" seat, a county in which Fine Gael is stronger. And now Sorca Clarke of Sinn Féin has moved into view.

9. Carlow-Kilkenny: The target is a Sinn Féin or Fine Gael seat and a two percentage-point increase is required. Winning three out of five seats is always a massive task and if Fianna Fáíl pulls it off here, it will be well on its way to government. John McGuinness and Bobby Aylward divided the Kilkenny vote very well last time. Sinn Féin's Kathleen Funchion is no longer vulnerable. Fianna Fáil's Carlow candidate Jennifer Murnane O'Connor came very close in 2016 and could get over the line this time. But will it be at the expense of Pat Deering of Fine Gael, or of her running mate, Aylward?

10. Cork East: Target is a Sinn Féin seat. Four percentage-point increase required since 2016. Another Sinn Féin TD, Pat Buckley, looked like facing a challenge following a poor local election for the party in Co Cork but now is seen as safe, even though the Sinn Féin vote is not as strong in Munster. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's second candidates had only a handful of votes separating them the last time around. The party's second candidates are at opposite ends of the constituency. It's now marginal.

11. Laois-Offaly: A Fine Gael seat is the target. A four percentage-point increase in required. It is a Fianna Fáil heartland and Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy had a middling vote in 2016. However, Fine Gael did well in locals and it would be a tall order for Fianna Fáil to win three out of five here. Brian Stanley of Sinn Féin remains strong in Portlaoise.

12. Louth: A Sinn Féin or Independent seat is the target. A nine point increase is needed. Fianna Fáil could have a higher percentage of votes than Fine Gael but might struggle with getting enough transfers to bring the party over the line. Its second candidate, James Byrne, is based in Drogheda where there is already a number of strong candidates. Sinn Féin now looks as if it will hold on to two which would make it a tricky proposition for Byrne to join Declan Breathnach in the Dáíl.

13. Kildare South: An extra seat. A four percentage-point increase is required. An effective three-seater because Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl was elected here. Fianna Fáil won two out of three in 2016 when it was actually a three-seater but a taller order this time as Mark Wall of Labour could sneak in. Suzanne Doyle is a high-profile running mate for sitting TD Fiona O'Loughlin and there is potential there. But it's less straightforward than 2016. Fiona McLoughlin Healy and Cathal Berry are two Independents, one of whom might spring a surprise.

14. Dublin South-West: The target is an Independent seat. Fianna Fáil got a quota here in 2016 and would need an eight-point increase in first-preference votes plus good vote management to win a second seat. However, candidate Charlie O'Connor had a mammoth local election in Tallaght and could squeeze through in a big field at the expense of Katherine Zappone or Paul Murphy.

15. Dublin Fingal: The target is a Fine Gael seat. A five percentage-point boost is needed. On paper the party has a chance here of taking a second seat after getting 1.4 quotas in 2016. However, the Greens will now need to take it in a scenario where Fine Gael is winning no seats. A very tall order.

16. Galway West: A five percentage-point increase is required. Fianna Fáil won more votes here than Fine Gael in 2016 but still returned only one TD. One of the Fine Gael TDs could be vulnerable but the disparity between Eamon Ó Cuív's votes, and his running mates' have always been too high. Against that, the party had a good local election in the city, and Ollie Crowe is an experienced candidate. His chances are remote though given the crowded field, and the strengths of other newish candidates such as Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats, Pauline O'Reilly of the Green Party, and (perhaps) Mairéad Farrell of Sinn Féin.

17. Limerick City: A Labour Party seat is the target. Fianna Fáil has a strong ticket in Willie O'Dea and James Collins, a cousin of Niall's. Sinn Féin's Maurice Quinlivan looked on shaky ground a month ago but no more. Jan O'Sullivan might be more precarious.

18. Dublin Rathdown: The target is the Independent Seat. An eight-point increase over 2016 is required. This was going to be the only constituency in the country where Fianna Fáíl had no seat. But in the last week, Shay Brennan has been talked up as a possible challenger for Shane Ross's seat, which has come as a huge surprise.

Potential losses

1. Wicklow: Could miss out to Greens, Social Democrats or Independents. Stephen Donnelly won almost 21 per cent of the vote here in 2016 but as a Social Democrat. With 13 per cent of the vote in 2016, Fianna Fáil would need to add at least 9 per cent to have any chance of taking a second seat. The big unknown is how Donnelly's vote will be impacted by him being a Fianna Fáil candidate. It will certainly be a negative drag despite his profile as his party's health spokesman. Valerie Cox's candidacy will not be a help.

2. Cork North-West: A huge ding-dong battle in store here between one of the Moynihans, Aindrias and Michael, and John Paul O'Shea of Fine Gael in a constituency where the third seats tends be interchangeable. O'Shea stood as an Independent in 2016 and did very well. Standing under the Fine Gael banner might be enough to get him over the line with Michael Creed. But as against that, Fianna Fáil is showing up much stronger in Munster in this week's Irish Times poll and that has to be reflected in the vote.

3. Sligo-Leitrim: Again Fianna Fáil won two out of four here on 32 per cent of the vote. Fine Gael had a good local election in Sligo but Fianna Fáil is still a little stronger. Marian Harkin's entry into the race has upset all that planning. If she knocks out a sitting TD, the most likely is one of the two Fianna Fáil deputies. But there is a scenario where Fine Gael – which again messed up its candidate strategy here – could end up with zero seats.

4. Kildare North: Could lose to Greens or Labour Party. Fianna Fáil won the second seat here on the back of a lowish first preference. The Green Party candidate, Vincent P Martin, might pose a threat, as might Labourveteran Emmet Stagg. Now Sinn Féin could also be a player here. On balance, it could be a hold, especially if vote management remains as disciplined as it was in 2016.

5. Roscommon-Galway: Fianna Fáil is potentially vulnerable to Fine Gael in the only constituency where it has no representation. Fine Gael's Aisling Dolan is based in Ballinasloe and not widely known in Roscommon. Fine Gael had a poor local election in Roscommon. Besides Denis Naughten is still regarded as proxy Fine Gael. It will be interesting to see if the addition of the high-profile Órla Leyden will affect the dynamic between herself and sitting TD, Eugene Murphy. On balance, a hold.

6. Dublin Bay South: Labour poses a threat. Jim O'Callaghan got elected with just over half a quota in 2016. He has been helped by having a high profile but if he fails to add to his first preferences, he might find Labour's Kevin Humphreys breathing down his neck. He relied a lot on transfers from Chris Andrews of Sinn Féin in 2016 and may not get as many. The absence of Michael McDowell from the slate will help his cause. Very unlikely to lose.

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SINN FÉIN

2016: 23 seats

Possible gains

1. Donegal: Target is an Independent seat. It needs a one-point increase in vote share over 2016. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn narrowly lost out to Thomas Pringle in 2016 using an ill-advised three-candidate strategy. This time there is just two candidates and the party has high hopes it can win back its second seat. Will be tight though.

2. Dublin West: Target is Labour Party/S-PBP. A two percentage point increase needed over 2016. Paul Donnelly has been knocking on the door in Dublin West and was the last remaining unsuccessful candidate in 2016. However, Sinn Féin did not have a great local election but it is in constituencies like this that it has a gale wind behind it. Ruth Coppinger looks in real trouble, as does Labour. A certain win.

3. Wexford: Target is Fine Gael. A two-point increase is needed. Another constituency where Sinn Féin came close to winning a seat in 2016. There have been mixed messages this year, a poor local election and a slightly better byelection performance. However, the momentum has returned and Johnny Mythen might be the fit. He is located to the north of the constituency which might be a handicap.

4. Cavan-Monaghan: There is an extra seat in this constituency. A six-point increase is needed. This is one of the few constituencies where Sinn Féin has the potential to win a second seat. Cavan has always been a bit of a challenge for it but this time Pauline Tully is highly experienced and has a chance alongside Matt Carthy.

5. Mayo: Target is a Fine Gael seat. Rose Conway-Walsh is an excellent Senator but always seemed to be coming up a little short in Mayo. But the surge in party support will certainly make her a contender here, and if she is ahead of the Greens' Saoirse McHugh, which is likely, her transfers might push the Sinn Féin candidate over the line.

6. Longford-Westmeath: A new planet is discovered in the galaxy. Sorca Clarke was seen as a mid-table finisher until a fortnight ago but now Sinn Féin can challenge in this constituency. I still see the final seat going to either Fianna Fáíl or Fine Gael.

Potential losses

1. Dublin Mid-West: to Fine Gael. This was almost certain before the campaign started but the party will now be in the mix to retain its two TDs in this four-seat constituency. Its challenge will be to stay ahead of Gino Kenny, the Greens and Paul Gogarty.

2. Louth: to the Labour Party. Possibility is medium to low. The party always had a tall order on its hands retaining two seats in Louth following Gerry Adams's retirement. And while it won more than 24 per cent of the vote in the local elections, it needs a higher volume of number ones to compensate for lack of transfers. A fortnight ago, I would have said No. Now, I would say it has a good chance of holding.

3. Cork East: to Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael. This a bit of long shot. Pat Buckley looked a goner last May after the party bombed in the locals. But it's bounced back and so has he. While Sinn Féin not showing up as highly in Munster, he can ward off the challenge from Fianna Fáíl and Fine Gael.

Other constituencies: I had another eight constituencies marked as potential losses for Sinn Féin. But that was a fortnight ago. And the world has changed since then.

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LABOUR PARTY

2016: Seven seats

Potential gains

1. Louth: Target is Sinn Féin/Independent. A two percentage-point increase is needed compared with 2016. Despite coming out of government, Labour very narrowly lost a number of seats and this was one of them. Ged Nash will be buoyed by the party's strong showing in its stronghold of Drogheda and is in contention to take a seat, although it will be a scrap.

2. Dublin Bay North: The party is targeting seats vacated by Independents. A two-point increase in vote share is needed. This constituency is always unpredictable because of the huge number of candidates. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin's passage to regain a seat is helped hugely by the retirements of Finian McGrath and Tommy Broughan. If he does not win, Labour can pack up and call it a day.

3. Kildare South: There is an extra seat in this constituency. A six point increase is needed. The addition of a seat will favour Mark Wall to take a position once held by his father, Jack. However, he needs to spread his support beyond his Athy base and may be vulnerable to Fianna Fáil's Suzanne Doyle, or an asymmetric challenge from two strong Independents.

4. Cork North-Central: Target is Solidarity-People Before Profit. Five per cent increase needed compared to 2016 election. Solidarity's Mick Barry will struggle to recapture 15 per cent of the vote from 2016 but will not lose his seat easily. Labour's John Maher performed well in the byelections and has established a profile after winning a council seat. Labour has not really recovered fully here after being floored in 2016. Maher may be in contention for the last seat but confidence has ebbed a little since start of campaign.

5. Waterford: Target is an Independent seat. A four-point increase is required. With John Halligan's resignation, there will be a spare seat here. The big parties each have one seat and Labour looks the best placed of the small parties to benefit, through John Pratt. He will have to fend off Marc Ó Cathasaigh of the Greens who are growing here but also – more immediately – Cllr Matt Shanahan, the Independent who has led the high-profile campaign to improve services at Waterford hospital. Pratt may be behind the curve a little here.

6. Dublin South-Central: Target is Fine Gael/People Before Profit. A four percentage-point boost is needed. Like Dublin Bay North, this constituency will involve a scramble for the last seat. If Labour stays ahead of Greens and other left-leaning candidates, Rebecca Moynihan could come close. She is a very impressive candidate but it's a slightly long shot.

7. Kildare North: Target is Fianna Fáil. A four-point increase is needed. Veteran Emmet Stagg was not that far away in 2016. He will need to stay ahead of the Greens and then rely on heavy transfers from them. Marginal.

8. Dublin Central: There is an extra seat here. A five-point increase is needed. Another veteran Joe Costello is the Labour standard bearer and will be in the mix in the final shake-up. Might not happen this time though. Unlikely.

9. Dún Laoghaire: Cllr Juliet O'Connell has had an impressive breakthrough year after getting elected as a councillor last year. She's still comparatively new though and might suffer a slight profile deficit, given her late entry into the race. It must not be forgotten Labour held a seat here for many years but to win she would really have to dislodge Richard Boyd Barrett, who holds the sole left-wing seat in the constituency. Very slim chance.

Potential losses

1. Longford-Westmeath: Potential loss to Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil. Possibility is high. Willie Penrose is retiring having defied all odds, and laws of gravity, in 2016. It's hard to see Labour retaining this seat even though former county footballer, Alan Mangan, has a high profile.

2. Dublin West: to Green Party/Sinn Féin. Possibility is high. The Greens look poised to win a seat here, with Fine Gael seeking a second seat, and Sinn Féin is also poised to take a seat at the expense of Ruth Coppinger. Joan Burton held the seat here in 2016 against the odds but you sense the tide might have run out on her.

3. Limerick City: Jan O'Sullivan looked comparatively safe until Sinn Féin managed to get back on the pitch. If Fianna Fáíl gets a second seat here it could be at her expense. She survived in 2016 and she is likely to survive again.

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GREEN PARTY

2016: Two seats

Potential gains

1. Dún Laoghaire: Extra seat. A 10-point boost is needed. If the party does not win a seat here, there will be no Green surge. It had a big local election here and should win its first seat in the constituency.

2. Dublin West: Target is Labour/Solidarity Party. An eight-point increase is required. Green Party chairman Roderic O'Gorman has been its candidate here for some time now and is expected to win a seat on the back of a really strong local election performance by him and colleagues.

3. Dublin Bay North: Target is Sinn Féin/Independent. An eight-point rise is required. The party was nowhere here in 2016 but again the momentum is with it after the local elections in a constituency where it did particularly well. David Healy won't get it easy though and will have to fight it out with the Social Democrats, Independent John Lyons, and Labour for two seats.

4. Dublin Central: Extra seat. A seven percentage-point increase is needed. The party did well in both local election areas with Ciarán Cuffe topping the poll in the north inner city. Its leader on Dublin City Council Neasa Hourigan is the candidate. She is impressive. She seems slightly ahead of Garry Gannon of the Social Democrats in the race for the final seat.

5. Dublin South-West: Target is an Independent seat. An eight-point increase is needed. The party will have an impact on Fine Gael and the Independent Minister Katherine Zappone. It elected councillors comfortably in all the middle-class areas of the constituency and Cllr Francis Noel Duffy (the husband of deputy leader Catherine Martin) is favoured to take a seat.

6. Cork South-Central: Target is Sinn Féin. A six point boost is required. Lorna Bogue will need to mount a huge challenge to dislodge Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire for the last seat in a constituency of heavy hitters; Micheál Martin, Michael McGrath and Simon Coveney are the other TDs. She is very much on the left of the party and will compete for transfers from smaller groups and left-leaning Independents.

7. Wicklow: Target is Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael. A six-point increase is needed. The party is hardly above five per cent in Wicklow but can benefit from transfers in a constituency where there are always multiple candidates. Fianna Fáil (Stephen Donnelly) and Sinn Féin votes are both expected to drop somewhat and the Green candidate Steven Matthews had an impressive haul of votes in the locals last year. With so many candidates, including Valerie Cox, it might be too big an ask.

8. Galway West: Target is Fine Gael/Independent. A six-point increase in vote share from 2016 is required. Pauline O'Reilly is a strong candidate who will be in the mix after the party had a good local elections in Galway City and in Connemara. The question is how strong the vote will be outside the city. She is also competing against Catherine Connolly for votes who is very strong in the city. There is also the impressive Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats and Sinn Féin's Mairéad Farrell is now back in the frame. No certainty at all.

9. Waterford: Target is an Independent seat. A six-point increase is required. There is a seat for the taking by a smaller party in Waterford with Halligan standing down. Former senator Grace O'Sullivan would have been a strong favourite if she had not run for Europe. Her replacement Marc Ó Cathasaigh will need to battle hard to break through against a strong challenge from Labour and from Matt Shanahan. He might just snatch it.

10. Kildare North: Target is Fianna Fáíl. A seven-point increase in vote share is required. A commuter constituency where the Greens made a big breakthrough in the local elections winning three seats on the council. Naas-based Vincent P Martin, brother of deputy leader Catherine Martin, is a smooth campaigner and will give Fianna Fáíl a run for its money in the battle for the last seat.

11. Louth: Target is Independent. A five-point increase of vote share is required. There were high hopes a decade ago that Mark Dearey might make a breakthrough for the Greens here. The former senator is a popular figure but would need to double the party's vote in the constituency.

12. Clare: This is another constituency which has seen a candidate or party emerge out of nowhere. There's definitely a seat for an Independent or smaller party here following the retirement of Michael Harty. Róisín Garvey is a straight-talking west Clare woman who has made a big impact and will be vying with Michael McNamara for that seat.

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SOCIAL DEMOCRATS

2016: Three seats (Donnelly left after election)

Possible gains

1. Dublin Central: Extra seat. A one-point increase is needed. Gary Gannon changed local electoral areas in the locals and was comfortably elected. He came very close in 2016, enjoys a high profile and will be in a battle with the Greens, Fianna Fáil and Labour for one of the final two seats here.

2. Dublin Bay North: Target is Sinn Féin/Independents. Another very solid Social Democrats performer is Cian O'Callaghan. The forward momentum of the Greens and John Lyons might stymie his chances though.

3. Galway West: Target is Fine Gael/Independent. A five-point increase in vote share required. Niall Ó Tuathail was another Social Democrats' star in 2016 with a strong showing in Galway West. Has he maintained the progress? Some would consider it ill advised for him not to have contested the local election. Council seats are seen as springboards for national politics. Still in with a strong chance.

4. Wicklow: Target is Fianna Fáil. Jennifer Whitmore had a very good local election and topped the poll in Greystones, Donnelly's stomping ground. He got 20 per cent last time when he ran for the Social Democrats. But a lot of that was a personal vote. Wicklow can be very unpredictable. Nobody knows how well Donnelly will do flying under the Fianna Fáil banner. Valerie Cox is an unknown quantity. Whitmore could very well be in contention for the final seat if she manages to capitalise on her local election performance.

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SOLIDARITY-PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT

2016: Six seats

Potential losses

1. Cork North-Central: to Labour Party. Mick Barry had 15 per cent of the vote here in 2016 but the signs in the local elections, and in the recent byelection, were ominous. He is going to struggle but his vote will certainly be higher than the locals suggested. Facing threats from Labour and, possibly, the Greens.

2. Dublin South-Central: to Fianna Fáil. Bríd Smith won with only a handful of votes to spare in 2016 and could be vulnerable this time to Fianna Fáil, the Greens, the Social Democrats and Labour. Some see this as a battle between her and Joan Collins in that left-wing space, even though both are based in different parts of the constituency.

3. Dubin Mid-West: to Independent/Greens or Sinn Féin. Gino Kenny came from nowhere to win a seat in 2016 and this popular and sincere TD might just hang on, partly on the back of his championing medicinal cannabis, which has given him a national profile. There are two left-wing seats in the constituency, and Sinn Féin is now looking to win a second. Another threat will come from an Independent candidate, possibly Paul Gogarty.

4. Dublin West: Vulnerable to Sinn Féin. Ruth Coppinger has been an indefatigable worker and has a national profile. But so do the other TDs, Leo Varadkar, Burton and Jack Chambers. Her seat is under huge threat.

5. Dún Laoghaire: To Fianna Fáil or the Greens. There has always been a left-wing seat in this constituency, and Richard Boyd Barrett might just hold on to it. However, that would mean getting in ahead of one of the two big parties, or the Greens.

6. Dublin South-West: to Fianna Fail or Greens. It's very hard to predict how Paul Murphy will fare, in his new role as the sole Rise TD in the Dáil. He did very well in 2016 on the back of the water protests but might find it difficult to maintain his support levels in the constituency. The decision by Solidarity to run Sandra Fay against her former party colleagues sounds ludicrous and could have an adverse impact on him. Both are running under the S-PBP banner.

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INDEPENDENTS/OTHERS

2016: 23 seats

Possible gains

1. Dublin Mid-West (Paul Gogarty): Target is People Before Profit. Gogarty could take the fourth seat on the back of a reasonably good outing in the byelection.

2. Sligo-Leitrim (Marian Harkin): Target is Fianna Fáil. The former MEP and TD has a very big cachet in the constituency and was wooed by Fine Gael. That offer might play a bit against her but she will be a threat to Fianna Fáíl.

3. Wexford (Verona Murphy): Target is Fine Gael. Murphy is as well-known as she is controversial and early in the campaign was seen poised to take a seat at the expense of Paul Kehoe. However, Sinn Féin's Johnny Mythen might top the poll and that might put paid to her chances.

4. Clare (Michael McNamara): Target is Independent/Fine Gael. There is an outgoing Independent TD, Michael Harty, who is retiring. Clare has a tradition of electing Independents and it might prove lucky for the former Labour Party TD.

5. Waterford (Matt Shanahan): The "hospital candidate" has a very high profile locally and loss of hospital services is always a touchstone issue. Shanahan is in with a chance and will be vying with the Greens and Labour for the final seat.

5. Dublin Bay North (John Lyons): The former People Before Profit councillor has an excellent track record on Dublin City Council and could cause an upset here against one of the three smaller left-leaning parties vying for the final seat.

Potential losses

1. Laois-Offaly (Carol Nolan): Laois and Offaly were two separate three-seat constituencies in 2016. Now, it's a five-seater and former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan could be the obvious loser.

2. Tipperary (Seamus Healy): to Fine Gael. Healy has been a great survivor but a change of mood might see him struggle.

3. Donegal (Thomas Pringle): to Sinn Féin. Pringle has also been a solid vote-getter but Sinn Féin has been working really hard since 2016 to regain a seat.

4. Galway East (Seán Canney): to Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. Canney is a Minister of State and a hard constituency worker but will find it hard to resist the two bigger parties. His best hope is to stay ahead of their Tuam-based candidates.

5. Dublin South-West (Katherine Zappone): to Greens/Fianna Fáil.Very hard to gauge how the Minister for Children will do. She benefitted from anti-establishment transfers in 2016 but may be able to trade on her performance as Minister with another set of voters.

6. Dublin Rathdown (Shane Ross): to Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil: This is a very fickle constituency and this year's poll topper is next year's also-ran. Ross's star has been waning here and his is under strong pressure from Neale Richmond and (surprisingly) Shay Brennan. However, he seems a little stronger now than at this time last year, having considerably upped his performance as Minister.

7. Galway West (Noel Grealish): to Green Party/Soc Dems/Fianna Fáíl. Grealish has courted controversy with crude anti-immigrant rhetoric and will lose some votes. The TG4 poll did not look good but he has held on before in similar circumstances.

8. Louth (Peter Fitzpatrick): to Fine Gael. It's hard to know how the Independent TD, formerly of Fine Gael, will do without a party banner. He is the chairman of Louth GAA this year and that is always a boon. But there are some very big hitters among his rivals and it will be difficult for him to survive.

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Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times