Labour retreats to northside to save Dublin seat

Strategists believe focus on northside is Emer Costello’s only chance of remaining MEP

 Emer Costello: focusing on northside and south inner-city pockets. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Emer Costello: focusing on northside and south inner-city pockets. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Labour has launched a last-ditch effort to hold its European Parliament seat in Dublin by focusing its efforts on the north side of the city and attacking Fianna Fáil in the final days of campaigning.

Party strategists believe Emer Costello’s only chance of holding on as an MEP in the capital is to focus on the northside and some pockets of the south inner city.

Some 40,000 leaflets were dropped across the northside by Labour last night, in an effort to sell their message that that side of the city needs an MEP. Called “Northside News”, the leaflet describes Ms Costello as “our MEP” and she says she is the “only MEP living on Dublin’s northside”.

Ms Costello, who was on 9 per cent in this week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, is in a chasing pack of candidates behind the two front-runners, Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin, from Tallaght, and Brian Hayes of Fine Gael, who is from Clontarf but is now based in Tallaght.

Ms Costello is behind Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick, who polled at 12 per cent this week, and Eamon Ryan of the Green Party, who was on 10 per cent, with Independent candidate Nessa Childers further back on 8 per cent.

In recent days, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he believes the final seat will be a fight between Ms Fitzpatrick and Ms Costello. Both are based on the city’s northside, with Ms Costello’s husband, Joe, a TD for Dublin Central, a constituency Ms Fitzpatrick has stood in in a number of general elections. The two candidates are expected to transfer to each other, given their geographical proximity, and the first to be eliminated could help to get the other elected.

Labour sources said the remaining days will see an intense focus on areas on the northside, as well as some pockets in the “near south city” and claimed it would be “all to play for” if the gap between Ms Costello and Ms Fitzpatrick narrows before polling day on Friday.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of failing to keep a promise that nobody would ever get a letter again from the Health Service Executive asking if they still had a life-threatening disease.

Tom Curran, partner of the late Marie Fleming, the right-to-die campaigner, said that in a meeting with Mr Kenny last November, “I was given an assurance that nobody with an incurable or terminal disease would ever be asked again if they still had the illness”.

Mr Curran, an Independent candidate in the local elections in Arklow, Co Wicklow, said yesterday: “Mr Kenny seemed very sincere and was very sympathetic to my face, but it seems he forgot about it as soon as I left the meeting.”

He added that he felt “very hurt, very angry and very let down” that it was happening again and the families of children with leukaemia and Down syndrome were still being asked if they had the disease or disability.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said however that Mr Kenny has repeatedly stated nobody should receive such a letter.