Ministers face struggle to hold on to Dáil seats

Minister for Transport fighting to retain seat in Dublin Central, which is now three-seater

Paschal Donohoe: Under pressure to retain his seat in Dublin Central

Paschal Donohoe: Under pressure to retain his seat in Dublin Central

 

The substantial churn of TDs at the last general election saw a number of ministers lose their seats.

The biggest ever cull of office-holders conducted by the electorate saw Eamon Ryan and John Gormley of the Green Party fail to make it back to the Dáil, while Fianna Fáil’s Mary Hanafin, Pat Carey and then-tánaiste Mary Coughlan were also rejected.

While not in office at the time, former minister and ceann comhairle John O’Donoghue also lost his seat. Others – such as Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Mary Harney – chose to retire.

While such a ministerial head-count is unlikely to transpire when the votes are counted on Saturday, a number of Cabinet members are seen as vulnerable.

Paschal Donohoe

The Minister for Transport is fighting to hold his seat in Dublin Central, which drops from four seats to three.

To make matters worse, a large portion of largely middle-class Glasnevin has been transferred to Dublin North-West, potentially depriving Mr Donohoe of more than 2,000 votes.

Also standing in Dublin Central is Joe Costello, the long-time Labour deputy, and it is unlikely that both Mr Costello and Mr Donohoe will return to the Dáil.

The battle is between the two Government TDs for the most first-preference votes – with transfers from the eliminated candidate likely to see the other over the line.

Joan Burton

The Minister for Social Protection could follow Ms Coughlan’s example of an outgoing tánaiste losing their seat. Ms Burton is standing in four-seat Dublin West alongside fellow Minister Leo Varadkar. Joe Higgins is retiring but his party colleague Ruth Coppinger is hoping to hold her Socialist Party seat, while a strong challenge is expected from Fianna Fáil councillor Jack Chambers.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly is expected to take a seat, which leaves Ms Burton in a battle.

Alex White

The Minister for Communications is fighting to hold on in a redrawn constituency, with the three-seat Dublin Rathdown reduced from the five-seat Dublin South.

Independent Shane Ross and former minister for justice Alan Shatter are seen as favourites to return to the Dáil.

Mr White also lost a big chunk of his Rathfarnham base to Dublin South-West. At the outset of the campaign, Fine Gael was talking up Josepha Madigan for a second seat in Dublin Rathdown but Mr White will hope to see off that challenge.

Limerick City

The Limerick Leader recently published a front-page story suggesting that Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea was encouraging his voters to transfer to Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan.

O’Dea denied the story, but his alleged concern for Ms O’Sullivan was not entirely borne of love for a Labour Minister in danger.

Sinn Féin candidate Maurice Quinlivan and Mr O’Dea have a storied rivalry, and Mr O’Dea was said to want to keep Mr Quinlivan out at all costs.

Michael Noonan and Kieran O’Donnell will be hoping to hold their seats for Fine Gael, and Mr O’Dea’s apparent generosity towards Ms O’Sullivan shows the danger the Minister for Education is in.

Tipperary

The old two, three-seat Tipperary constituencies have been merged into one five-seater, and Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is fighting to hold his place in the Dáil.

Fine Gael has two outgoing deputies in Noel Coonan and Tom Hayes, a recovering Fianna Fáil will hope to gain a seat and controversial Independent Michael Lowry is expected to top the poll.

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