Michael O’Regan’s armchair guide to the Election 2016 counts
What to watch out for in all 40 constituencies as the counts get under way
Counting for Election 2016 gets under way at 9am Saturday morning. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
CARLOW-KILKENNY (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: John McGuinness (FF), Bobby Aylward (FF), John Paul Phelan (FG), Pat Deering (FG), Ann Phelan (Lab)
Watch for trends that could be a barometer of what is happening nationally. Last time, Fine Gael won three seats and Labour one, paving the way for the Coalition. Fianna Fáil’s Bobby Aylward won back one for the party in a byelection when Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan went to Europe as EU commissioner. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil seem set to retain two seats each, but Labour’s Ann Phelan will be under pressure. The performance of Renua’s Patrick McKee should be interesting, given he did well in the byelection and the party hopes to make a gain here. Expect a strong challenge, too, from Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion, while the Green Party’s Malcolm Noonan is attempting to emulate the achievement of Mary White, who held a seat for the party in the constituency in the past.
CAVAN-MONAGHAN (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF), Brendan Smith (FF), Joe O’Reilly (FG), Heather Humphreys (FG), Seán Conlan (Ind)
Had it not been reduced to a four-seater, it might well produce two Sinn Féin TDs, with Senator Kathryn Reilly joining Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in the Dáil. Reilly’s first preference vote will be interesting, nevertheless, and will give an indication if the outside chance of a second Sinn Féin seat is a runner. So, too, the first preferences of Fine Gael’s Heather Humphreys and Joe Reilly will indicate if, as expected, they can hold two seats. How will Seán Conlan, formerly of Fine Gael, do as an Independent? Another interesting Independent is Garda whistleblower John Wilson, brother of Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson and nephew of former Fianna Fáil tánaiste John Wilson. Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith looks set to retain his seat.
CLARE (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Pat Breen (FG), Joe Carey (FG), Michael McNamara (Lab), Timmy Dooley (FF)
Clare could live up to its reputation for surprises. The first preferences of Independents Dr Michael Harty and Ann Norton will give an early indication of that. Harty is running on the campaign slogan, “No doctor, No village’’, while Norton is an Independent member of Clare County Council, a well-known disability campaigner and former Clare Person of the Year. Fianna Fáil will hold one seat and early trends will indicate if Fine Gael can hold its two. While the polls suggest Labour’s Michael McNamara is in trouble, can his streak of political independence save him in a county known for its sometimes maverick electoral ways?
CORK EAST (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: David Stanton (FG), Tom Barry (FG), Seán Sherlock (Lab), Sandra McLellan (SF)
A Fianna Fáil recovery could be on the cards in this constituency which was once a party stronghold. Kevin O’Keeffe, son of former Fianna Fáil TD Ned O’Keeffe, is expected to take a seat, but at whose expense? With Fine Gael likely to retain two seats, the casualties could be Labour or Sinn Féin. Labour’s Seán Sherlock is a steady vote-getter who will not be easily dislodged, so the focus is more on how the new Sinn Féin candidate, Pat Buckley, will poll. Outgoing Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan stood down amid bitter divisions within the local organisation which could cost the party a seat. It will be interesting to see how Renua candidate Senator Paul Bradford, a former Fine Gael TD for the constituency, performs. He is husband of party leader Lucinda Creighton and his performance could indicate just how well the party is doing in the key constituencies it targeted nationally.
CORK NORTH CENTRAL (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Dara Murphy (FG), Billy Kelleher (FF), Kathleen Lynch (Lab), Jonathan O’Brien (SF)
The battle could be for the Labour seat, with no change otherwise. Labour’s Kathleen Lynch is expected to be under pressure from Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit candidate Mick Barry, who has painstakingly built up a base in the constituency. A left-wing member of Cork City Council since 2004, he polled 936 first preferences in the 2002 general election; 1,700 in 2007, and 4,803 last time. The first preference votes secured by Lynch, an outspoken and capable politician, and Barry, will tell much about the eventual destination of Lynch’s seat.
CORK NORTH WEST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Michael Creed (FG), Áine Collins (FG), Michael Moynihan (FF)
A retention of the status quo, unless one of the Independent candidates causes an upset, is on the cards. They include Diarmuid O’Flynn, of the Independent Alliance, a founder of the Ballyhea Says No campaign, which holds weekly protests against the State-funded repayment to bank bondholders. O’Flynn contested the 2014 European elections in the Ireland South constituency, polling 4.61 per cent of the first preference vote and remained in contention until the 10th count. Watch, too, for Independent John Paul O’Shea, who is currently mayor of Co Cork.
CORK SOUTH CENTRAL (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Micheál Martin (FF), Michael McGrath (FF), Simon Coveney (FG), Jerry Buttimer (FG), Ciarán Lynch (Lab)
Expect a dogfight here because it has been reduced from a five-seater. Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil leader, and Michael McGrath, finance spokesman, defied national trends the last time and secured two seats. This should be possible again. Labour’s Ciarán Lynch, despite the high profile he secured chairing the Oireachtas banking inquiry, is under huge pressure, as is Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer, despite being a strong constituency performer. The focus will be mainly on Lynch, with Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, a member of Cork County Council since 2014, leading the challenge. Cast any eye over the first preference votes of the Independents to see if there are others in the mix.
CORK SOUTH-WEST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Jim Daly (FG), Noel Harrington (FG), Michael McCarthy (Lab)
Expect changes here. Fianna Fáil is likely to win back a seat, with Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony, although the impact of Independent Alan Coleman, formerly of Fianna Fáil, is worth watching. Keep an eye on Independent Michael Collins, from Schull, a member of Cork County Council, who polled 3,409 first preferences and took the first seat in the Cork West electoral area in the last local elections. Labour’s Michael McCarthy, who did well to win a seat last time, would seem to be first in the firing line in the Fianna Fáil-Independent onslaught.
DONEGAL (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Joe McHugh (FF), Charlie McConalogue (FF), Pádraig Mac Lochlainn (SF), Pearse Doherty (SF), Thomas Pringle (Ind)
Two three-seaters, Donegal North-East and Donegal South-West, have been amalgamated to make up this five-seater. The two Sinn Féin seats are safe and there is an Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael seat each. The battle will be for the last seat and watch for a possible Fianna Fáil gain. Sitting Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue is joined on the ticket by Dáil and European Parliament veteran, Pat the Cope Gallagher, always a strong vote-getter. Independent Thomas Pringle cannot be ruled out, if he has managed to extend his base from Donegal South-West and with the wind to the back of Independents as the polls suggest. The performance of Fine Gael’s Letterkenny-based candidate, Paddy Harte, son of former long-serving TD, also named Paddy Harte, will be interesting.
DUBLIN BAY NORTH (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Richard Bruton (FG), Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Lab), Seán Kenny (Lab), Finian McGrath (Ind), Terence Flanagan (Renua), Tommy Broughan (Ind)
This sprawling constituency is an amalgamation of Dublin North Central and Dublin North East. Labour will not be repeating the glory days of 2011, when it won three seats, with Aodhán Ó Ríordáin its best chance of salvaging something from the wreckage this time. Seán Kenny is retiring. Tommy Broughan, formerly of Labour, is an Independent to watch. Richard Bruton will hold his seat, as will Finian McGrath, and, after that, it will be the mother of all battles. Watch for the internal Fianna Fáil battle between Seán Haughey and Deirdre Heney, with one likely to be successful. Watch, too, for the Independent Senator Averil Power, formerly of Fianna Fáil, Renua’s Terence Flanagan, formerly Fine Gael, and for the two Sinn Féin candidates, Mícheál Mac Donncha and Denise Mitchell, one of whom should challenge for a seat.
DUBLIN BAY SOUTH (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Ruairí Quinn (Lab), Kevin Humphreys (Lab), Lucinda Creighton (Renua), Eoghan Murphy (FG)
Can Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell take out the party’s one-time golden girl and now Renua leader, Lucinda Creighton? The constituency, formerly Dublin South East, was once a Fine Gael bastion, having been represented by two Fine Gael taoisigh, John A Costello and Garret FitzGerald, over the decades. Two seats, secured by Eoghan Murphy and O’Connell, would be a return to the glory days. With Quinn retired, Can Kevin Humphreys salvage Labour’s remaining seat in the constituency? The opinion polls suggest he could have a fight. Watch for the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan, who could return to the Dáil, while the performance of Sinn Féin’s Chris Andrews, formerly of Fianna Fáil, will be interesting. Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan is fighting for a seat in a constituency which may be tough for the party to crack.
DUBLIN CENTRAL (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Paschal Donohoe (FG), Joe Costello (Lab), Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind), Mary Lou MacDonald (SF)
This constituency is reduced from a four-seater, so a casualty among the outgoing TDs is inevitable. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald is the most secure. Donohoe, O’Sullivan, who succeeded the late Tony Gregory, and Labour’s Joe Costello, a battle-hardened warrior for his party, will be in contention. Independent Christy Burke, who had a high profile as lord mayor of Dublin, could be a dark horse. Mary Fitzpatrick is Fianna Fáil’s only candidate in the one-time Bertie Ahern stronghold, when two seats for the party were guaranteed. She was electorally sidelined by Ahern in his glory days and it will be interesting to see if her hour has come.
DUBLIN FINGAL (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: James Reilly (FG), Alan Farrell (FG), Brendan Ryan (Lab), Clare Daly (Ind)
There will be a Fianna Fáil gain in this constituency, a redrawn version of the old Dublin North. Senator Darragh O’Brien, Fianna Fáil leader in the Seanad, is expected to return to the Dáil. Independent Clare Daly could well head the poll, and has a running mate on this occasion, while there is every chance Fine Gael could hold its two seats and Labour its one. Trevor Sargent once held a seat here for the Green Party and this time the party is running Skerries-based Joe O’Brien, who unsuccessfully contested the local elections. Sinn Féin, weak in the constituency, is running Louise O’Reilly, a Siptu official.
DUBLIN MID-WEST (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Joanna Tuffy (Lab), Robert Dowds (Lab), Frances Fitzgerald (FG), Derek Keating (FG)
Expect a Sinn Féin gain here, with Eoin Ó Broin, a Dublin county councillor and a senior party backroom strategist, taking a seat. Will it be at Labour’s expense? Robert Dowds has retired, leaving Joanna Tuffy a clear run, but she will be under pressure. While Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald is safe, Derek Keating could be under pressure. Former Fianna Fáil minister of state John Curran is attempting to regain his Dáil seat. It will be interesting to see how Paul Gogarty, formerly a Green Party TD for the constituency, does as an Independent.
DUBLIN NORTH-WEST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Róisín Shortall (SD), Dessie Ellis (SF), John Lyons (Lab)
Róisín Shortall, of the Social Democrats, and formerly of Labour, and Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis, should be safe. The destination of the third seat is an imponderable. Fine Gael has been without a seat in the constituency since 1997, and this time it is pinning its chances on Dublin city councillor Noel Rock, who has been parliamentary assistant to Senator Catherine Noone. The constituency also became a Fianna Fáil blackspot in the last election, when it went from having two seats to none. The performance of Paul McAuliffe, the party’s group leader in Dublin City Council, could be a barometer of the party’s fortunes. The performance of the AAA-PBP candidate, councillor Andrew Keegan, bears watching.
DUBLIN RATHDOWN (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Shane Ross (Ind), Peter Mathews (Ind), Alex White (Lab), Olivia Mitchell (FG), Alan Shatter (FG)
This new constituency replaces the old Dublin South five-seater, which was known for its volatility. Will this volatility surface in the smaller constituency? Independent Shane Ross is likely to head the poll, as he did last time, and Alan Shatter is favourite to take the Fine Gael seat, given Olivia Mitchell’s retirement. Despite his ministerial profile, Labour’s Alex White could be under pressure. Will Senator Mary White’s careful cultivation of the constituency secure a Fianna Fáil seat? Peter Mathews, formerly of FG, is running as an Independent, while Fine Gael’s second candidate is councillor Joseph Madigan. The Green Party is running councillor Catherine Martin in a constituency where it previously held a seat.
DUBLIN SOUTH-CENTRAL (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Catherine Byrne (FG), Michael Conaghan (Lab), Eric Byrne (Lab), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (SF), Joan Collins (Ind)
This constituency is down from five seats. Labour secured two seats last time but has bowed to the inevitability of struggling to retain one with the retirement of Michael Conaghan. Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne and Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh will hold their seats, with Independent Joan Collins also seen as strong. Bríd Smith, of AAA-PBP, and Fianna Fail’s Catherine Ardagh, daughter of former TD Seán Ardagh, should also be in the mix. Could the hard-left candidates split the vote, paving the way for Ardagh to secure a gain for her party?
DUBLIN SOUTH-WEST (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Pat Rabbitte (Lab), Seán Crowe (SF), Eamonn Maloney (Ind), Paul Murphy (AAA-PBP)
This is another possible gain for Fianna Fáil. Its candidate John Lahart, adviser to former minister of state Tom Kitt, has a strong base in Rathfarnham which is now included in the constituency. In the last local elections, he polled 1,972 votes, which was 1.12 quotas in that electoral area.
With Labour’s Pat Rabbitte retired and former colleague Eamonn Maloney running as an Independent, Labour’s Pamela Kearns and Mick Duff have a formidable battle to keep the party’s flag flying. Fine Gael had a seat until Brian Hayes opted for Europe and the party is running three candidates, Colm Brophy, Anne-Marie Dermody and Karen Warren. Independent Senator Katherine Zappone, who was prominently associated with the marriage equality referendum, is among the other candidates.
DUBLIN WEST (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Leo Varadkar (FG), Joan Burton (Lab), Joe Higgins (SP), Ruth Coppinger (AAA-PBP)
Are reports of the electoral demise of Labour leader Joan Burton greatly exaggerated? Given the polls, she could be under pressure. Leo Varadkar, whose running mate is Senator Catherine Noone, will hold his seat and, with the retirement of Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins, Ruth Coppinger should retain hers. Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly, who did well in the 2014 byelection won by Coppinger, will be in contention for a seat. Fianna Fáil’s young candidate Jack Chambers, a poll-topping councillor in the Castleknock ward, could win back the seat once held by the late Brian Lenihan.
DÚN LAOGHAIRE (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Eamon Gilmore (Lab), Seán Barrett (FG), Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG), Richard Boyd Barrett (AAA-PBP)
This is effectively a three-seater, given that Seán Barrett is automatically returned as Ceann Comhairle. Mary Mitchell O’Connor, of Fine Gael, and Richard Boyd Barrett, of AAA-PBP, should hold their seats, with a hard-fought battle for the remaining seat. Former Fianna Fáil minister Mary Hanafin is hoping to return to the Dáil, and she has been involved in a bitter internal party battle with fellow candidate, Cormac Devlin. With Gilmore’s retirement, Labour’s Carrie Smyth will be up against it to retain the party’s seat. Sinn Féin is running Ballybrack councillor Shane O’Brien.
GALWAY EAST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Michael Kitt (FF), Colm Keaveney (FF), Paul Connaughton jnr (FG), Ciarán Cannon (FG)
Watch for Independent Alliance candidate Seán Canney, who has been building a base for a Dáil seat. He polled 5,567 first preferences in the last general election and secured 1.7 quotas, 3,171 first preferences, in the Tuam area in the local elections. With Fianna Fáil’s Michael Kitt retiring, Colm Keaveney, formerly of Labour, is joined on the Fianna Fáil ticket by Anne Rabbitte, and should hold his seat. Fine Gael will be under pressure to hold two seats, with Paul Connaughton appearing to be stronger than Ciarán Cannon. Labour’s Senator Lorraine Higgins has worked hard in the constituency and her vote will be interesting in an area which is not natural party territory.
GALWAY WEST (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Éamon Ó Cuiv (FF), Brian Walsh (FG), Seán Kyne (FG), Derek Nolan (Lab), Noel Grealish (Ind)
Michael D Higgins’s successor for the Labour seat, Derek Nolan, could be under pressure, particularly from Independent councillor Catherine Connolly who came close to winning a seat last time. Despite Brian Walsh’s retirement on health grounds, Fine Gael should retain its two seats, given the move by John O’Mahony – who has a close GAA association with Galway – from Mayo. Independent Noel Grealish should retain his seat, while the performance of Sinn Féin’s Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, whose base is Connemara, bears monitoring. Of late, there has been much talk about Social Democrats candidate Niall Ó Tuathail.
KERRY (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Jimmy Deenihan (FG), Brendan Griffin (FG), Arthur Spring (Lab), Martin Ferris (SF), Tom Fleming (Ind), Michael Healy-Rae (Ind)
Can the Healy-Rae brothers pull off a truly spectacular coup and secure two seats? It will be difficult. Danny joined brother Michael on the ticket after the unexpected withdrawal of Independent Tom Fleming, and they have divided up the constituency. While a TG4 poll had Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris in trouble, a more likely casualty could be Labour’s Arthur Spring. Fine Gael will have a fight on its hands to retain two seats, while Fianna Fáil, with candidates John Brassil and Norma Moriarty, look set to take a seat.
KILDARE NORTH (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Bernard Durkan (FG), Anthony Lawlor (FG), Emmet Stagg (Lab), Catherine Murphy (SD)
Can Fianna Fáil win back a seat in a constituency once represented by former minister for finance and EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy? The party is running two candidates, both councillors, James Lawless in Sallins and Frank O’Rourke in Celbridge. Fine Gael looks most vulnerable to the Fianna Fáil challenge, with Anthony Lawlor likely to lose out rather than wily veteran Bernard Durkan. Catherine Murphy, of the Social Democrats, should head the poll, and Emmet Stagg should retain his seat.
KILDARE SOUTH (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Martin Heydon (FG), Jack Wall (Lab), Seán Ó Fearghaíl (FF)
Can Mark Wall hold his father Jack’s seat for Labour? Although he has a strong council base, and is active in sport, much will depend on how the party is doing nationally. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will challenge for the seat. County councillor Fiona McLoughlin Healy is joining Martin Heydon on the Fine Gael ticket, while Fiona O’Loughlin, also a county councillor, is running with Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl. A Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil gain cannot be ruled out here.
LAOIS (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Charles Flanagan (FG), Seán Fleming (FF), Brian Stanley (SF)
This is a new three-seat constituency made up of Laois and part of the old Kildare South. Fine Gael’s Charles Flanagan and Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming will hold their seats and the only question mark is over the third. Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley is favourite, but watch for what could be a strong challenge from Labour’s John Whelan, a senator who has been very active locally and in the upper house. He has family connections with the Kildare part of the constituency, which could boost his vote.
LIMERICK CITY (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Michael Noonan (FG), Kieran O’Donnell (FG), Willie O’Dea (FF), Jan O’Sullivan (Lab)
Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan, outgoing Minister for Finance, and Kieran O’Donnell, will hold their seats. As should former Fianna Fáil minister Willie O’Dea. Watch for the battle for the last seat as Labour Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan comes under pressure from Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan. Will O’Dea’s call to Fianna Fáil voters to transfer to O’Sullivan be enough to block Sinn Féin? Quinlivan has been carefully courting a Dáil seat and his local elections performance, when he topped the poll in the Limerick City North electoral area with 2,456 votes, shows he is a strong force this time.
LIMERICK COUNTY (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Niall Collins (FF), Dan Neville (FG), Patrick O’Donovan (FG)
The outcome in this constituency, formerly Limerick West, used to be very predictable. There is unlikely to be any change this time. Fine Gael county councillor Tom Neville, who replaced his father on the ticket, and Patrick O’Donovan should take Fine Gael seats, while Niall Collins will continue the family dynasty and hold his own. What could be of interest is the performance of Independent councillors Emmet O’Brien and Richard O’Donoghue, formerly of Fianna Fáil. Will they reduce the Collins vote? Senator James Heffernan, who narrowly missed taking a seat for Labour last time, is running for the Social Democrats.
LONGFORD-WESTMEATH (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Willie Penrose (Lab), James Bannon (FG), Gabrielle McFadden (FG), Robert Troy (FF)
Labour’s Willie Penrose, a strong performer in good times and bad for the party, should retain his seat. Watch for Independent Kevin “Boxer’’ Moran, familiar to television viewers from the RTÉ television coverage of the Athlone flooding, who seems likely to take a seat. James Morgan, running for the Independent Alliance in Longford, could also be in contention, as could Sinn Féin’s Paul Hogan. The early counts will point to who is most vulnerable to the strong Independent challenge. Will the bitter divisions within the local Fianna Fáil organisation impact on the party’s vote in the one-time stronghold of big names such as Albert Reynolds and Mary O’Rourke? Robert Troy is joined on the ticket by Connie Gerety-Quinn, who was selected after the party’s national executive issued a directive that only a female candidate could be chosen.
LOUTH (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Séamus Kirk (FF), Gerry Adams (SF), Fergus O’Dowd (FG), Gerald Nash (Lab), Peter Fitzpatrick (FG)
A Sinn Féin gain is anticipated, with Imelda Munster joining party leader Gerry Adams in the Dáil. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are likely to win a seat each, with a battle for the last seat which is expected to feature, among others, outgoing Labour Minister of State Gerald Nash. The two outgoing Fine Gael TDs Fergus O’Dowd, whose brother Michael is running for Renua, and Peter Fitzpatrick, will find it difficult to retain two seats. With Séamus Kirk’s retirement, Fianna Fáil is running Declan Breathnach and Emma Coffey. Independent Alliance councillors Kevin Callan and Maeve Yore are also running.
MAYO (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Enda Kenny (FG), Michael Ring (FG), Michelle Mulherin (FG), John O’Mahony (FG), Dara Calleary (FF)
What impact, if any, will Enda Kenny’s “whingers’’ remark have on Fine Gael’s support base in his home constituency? The transfer of electoral divisions in the Ballinrobe area to Galway West prompted John O’Mahony to move there. Retaining three seats will be a challenge for Fine Gael, despite it being the Taoiseach’s constituency and the legendary vote-getting powers of Michael Ring. Fianna Fáil is running Lisa Chambers with Dara Calleary but it will be a challenge for the party to win two seats. Watch for Sinn Féin candidate Rose Conway-Walsh, who impressed on Vincent Browne’s TV3 constituency programme.
MEATH EAST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Regina Doherty (FG), Helen McEntee (FG), Dominic Hannigan (Lab)
Fianna Fáil’s Senator Thomas Byrne should make a comeback to the Dáil, while Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke will also challenge for a seat. Three TDs from the outgoing Government are unlikely to be returned, with Labour’s Dominic Hannigan the most vulnerable. The constituency includes some of the volatile commuter belt and surprises cannot be ruled out.
MEATH WEST (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Damien English (FG), Ray Butler (FG), Peadar Tóibín (SF)
Fianna Fáil’s Shane Cassells should take a seat at the expense of Fine Gael. Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín will hold his seat. Fine Gael’s Ray Butler is expected to be most vulnerable to the Fianna Fáil challenge. Navan-based Cassells began his political career when he was elected to Navan Town Council in 1999, aged 21. The long experience in contesting local and national elections should finally yield him a Dáil seat.
OFFALY (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Barry Cowen (FF), Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (FG)
Fianna Fail’s Barry Cowen and Fine Gael’s Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy will hold their seats in this new constituency which was part of the old Laois-Offaly five-seater. The battle will be between Sinn Féin and Renua for the third seat. Sinn Féin councillor Carol Nolan should benefit from the growing support for the party in the county. Renua’s John Leahy could make a breakthrough for the new party, given his performance in the Birr electoral area in the local elections when he headed the poll with 2,686 votes. Independent John Foley, formerly of Fianna Fáil, who polled well in the Edenderry electoral area, could be in the shake-up if he poaches votes from his old party.
ROSCOMMON-GALWAY (3 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind), Frank Feighan (FG), Denis Naughten (Ind)
The odds are stacked against Fianna Fáil making a comeback in a one-time stronghold. The party is running two candidates, long-serving councillor Eugene Murphy and Shane Curran, former GAA county goalkeeper. However, the local organisation, beset by internal rivalries, is not as sharp as it once was. Independents Michael Fitzmaurice and Denis Naughten should hold their seats, and Fianna Fáil will battle it out with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin for the third seat. It will most likely go to the sole Fine Gael candidate, Maura Hopkins. The transfers of Labour candidate Senator John Kelly could be crucial. Sinn Féin is running schoolteacher Claire Kerrane.
SLIGO-LEITRIM (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: John Perry (FG), Tony McLoughlin (FG), Michael Colreavy (SF)
The constituency has been redrawn and gained a seat, and one of the major questions is how will Fine Gael’s John Perry, who took his case to contest the election to the High Court, do ? Is there a sympathy vote? In a crowded field, Senator Marc MacSharry and former TD Eamon Scanlon will battle it out for what is expected to be the one Fianna Fáil seat. Fine Gael’s Tony McLoughlin looks strong. Watch for the Leitrim battle between Fine Gael’s Gerry Reynolds and Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny, given many people in the county will vote local. Sligo-based Labour senator Susan O’Keeffe failed to take a seat in 2011 and is unlikely to make a breakthrough this time either.
TIPPERARY (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Michael Lowry (Ind), Noel Coonan (FG), Tom Hayes (FG), Alan Kelly (Lab), Séamus Healy (Ind), Mattie McGrath (Ind)
Following the amalgamation of two constituencies here, Independent TD Michael Lowry is expected to head the poll, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil taking a seat each. A battle royal is expected for the remaining seats, with two strong Independents, Séamus Healy and Mattie McGrath, in the fray. Watch for the first preferences of the Fine Gael candidates Tom Hayes and Noel Coonan, and Fianna Fáil’s Michael Smith, Jackie Cahill and Siobhán Ambrose, to see who might eventually win out for their respective parties. If there is a national swing against Labour, will deputy leader Alan Kelly defy it on his home patch? The Sinn Féin candidate is Séamus Morris.
WATERFORD (4 seats)
Outgoing TDs: John Deasy (FG), Paudie Coffey (FG), Ciara Conway (Lab), John Halligan (Ind)
There could be a change here, with Sinn Féin’s Senator David Cullinane in the hunt for Labour TD Ciara Conway’s seat. Cullinane’s first preference vote will need to be high to keep him in contention. John Deasy and Minister of State Paudie Coffey should hold the two Fine Gael seats in this party stronghold. How John Halligan, a member of the Independent Alliance, performs will be interesting to follow.
WEXFORD (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Mick Wallace (Ind), Brendan Howlin (Lab), John Browne (FF), Liam Twomey (FG), Paul Kehoe (FG),
Can Mick Wallace, who by his own admission does no constituency work, hold his seat and even top the poll like the last time? Fine Gael’s Paul Kehoe, Government Chief Whip, and Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure, should hold their seats. Fianna Fáil’s James Browne, who replaces his father John Browne on the ticket, should win a seat. Watch for a battle for the last two seats. Fine Gael senator Michael D’Arcy is hoping to replace retiring colleague Liam Twomey, while Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne and Aoife Byrne, as well as Independent Ger Carthy and Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen could also be in contention.
WICKLOW (5 seats)
Outgoing TDs: Andrew Doyle (FG), Simon Harris (FG), Billy Timmins (Renua), Anne Ferris (Lab), Stephen Donnelly (SD)
Watch for the performance of the two candidates representing two new parties: Renua’s Billy Timmins, formerly of Fine Gael, and Stephen Donnelly, of the Social Democrats, previously an Independent. High-profile Minister of State Simon Harris and Andrew Doyle look set to hold the Fine Gael seats. Fianna Fáil is attempting to win back a seat with candidates Pat Casey and Jennifer Cuffe, while Sinn Féin’s John Brady should be in contention. The first preference vote of Labour’s Anne Ferris will indicate if, as expected, she could be under pressure.