#GE16 Dublin South East: Transfers may help Eamon Ryan win a very tight final seat…

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 14.23.06Dublin Bay South

Current TDs (Dublin South East)

Ruairi Quinn TD (Labour Party), Lucinda Creighton TD, (Renua – elected as Fine Gael), Eoghan Murphy TD (Fine Gael), Kevin Humphreys TD (Labour Party)

The constituency review renamed the old Dublin South East to the much more salubrious sounding Dublin Bay South. An additional population of about 12,500 from around Terenure has been moved into this constituency.

Total seats in 2016 General Election: 4   

Main Areas:

Terenure, Ranelagh, Rathmines, Ballsbridge, Ringsend

Candidates: 

Eoghan Murphy TD, Fine Gael

  • Cllr. Kate O’Connell, Fine Gael
  • Cllr. Jim O’Callaghan, Fianna Fáil
  • Minister of State, Kevin Humphreys TD, Labour
  • Cllr. Chris Andrews, Sinn Féin
  • Annette Mooney, People Before Profit Alliance
  • Eamon Ryan, Green Party
  • Lucinda Creighton TD, Renua
  • Gleanna Lynch, Social Democrats
  • Mannis Flynn, Independent

Dublin South is one of just five constituencies to return only Government party TDs in 2011 – a feat which is highly unlikely to be repeated on this occasion.

While there are some socially deprived and working class areas, particularly around Ringsend and the South Dock area, the voters who turn out in this constituency are primarily middle class with an older and more rooted connection to the locality than many of its other occupants. Most of the young transient population living in rental accommodation frankly don’t vote.

This constituency has seen a very low turnout rate in recent elections. The new Dublin Bay South constituency has been augmented by an extra middle class population coming in from Terenure. As one of the smallest constituencies in the country candidate location is of less relevance than their accent.

This constituency above all others seems inflicted with that modern barrier to political engagement – gated communities or apartment blocks. It can be very difficult for politicians on the canvass trail to engage with voters when they are unable to knock on the door.

While many residents are perfectly happy with this arrangement it should also convey an advantage to incumbent TDs, celebrity candidates or those who have the tenacity to build up their profile over time.

The old Dublin South East was noted for changing at least one of its representatives in every election since the early 1980s.  This trend is going to be repeated this year as former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn, the sole constant in the constituency for almost 35 years, is now retiring.

Lucinda Creighton is by far the most high profile TD remaining in the constituency. Many people are taken aback by her somewhat frosty manner and disagree with her morally conservative outlook.

However, some argue that she deserves credit for having the strength of her convictions when giving up a ministerial position and the likely prospect of senior office for the road less travelled of setting up her own party. Renua’s Lucinda may not top the poll but she should safely hold her seat.

Eoghan Murphy the remaining Fine Gael TD in the constituency has developed a reputation for being a thorn in the leaderships’ side. Young and articulate Murphy is ambitious, impatient and not slow to criticise his own party if he feels it merited. For Fine Gael to have lost one TD could be seen as unfortunate for the party but at times it looked distinctly likely that through carelessness, young Murphy would go overboard too.

Murphy shares many of the same social views as Lucinda, though there is no love lost between the two former colleagues. The second Fine Gael candidate Cllr. Kate O‘Connell does enjoy her party leader’s favour and had a solid local election campaign in the Rathgar area.

At least one of the two will definitely be elected and while it might be a close fight we’re putting our money on the incumbent who has worked hard on maintaining a high profile as a slightly renegade backbencher. On a good day for the party the second seat cannot be ruled out but with Lucinda likely to keep many of her old voters it seems rather unlikely at this time.

With Ruairi Quinn’s retirement and party popularity nationally at a low ebb, the Labour Party have decided to play it safe. They are just running one candidate, Minister of State, Kevin Humphreys. Humphreys was first elected in 2011 and prior to that was a councillor in the south east inner city area. He has a reputation as an assiduous constituency worker.

His colleague Quinn had built up a solid personal vote amongst the liberal and affluent denizens in the constituency and there is some doubt that this will readily transfer to Humphreys who is of more traditional Labour Party background.

The Ministerial title will stand to Humphreys and this along with a reputation for hard work and Labour’s reasonable performance in the local elections in this area should see him favoured to get ahead of the second Fine Gael candidate and take what should be one of two seats for the outgoing government.

As in many constituencies the real interest here is in the hunt for the last seat. Arguments can be made for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Green Party. 

Sinn Fein’s Chris Andrews formerly represented the constituency as a Fianna Fáil TD. He left Fianna Fáil under somewhat controversial circumstances in 2011 having been outed as the owner of an anonymous twitter account critical of the party and its leader.

He wasn’t exactly welcomed into Sinn Féin with open arms by some activists having a solid record of attacking the republican movement when he was in Fianna Fáil. A poll topping performance in the Pembroke South Dock Electoral Area in 2014 showed that some of Andrew’s personal vote had stuck with him.  If this is replicated in the rest of the constituency then this seat could be there for the taking.

Andrews is likely to be there till close to the end of the count. He may need a strong dose of transfers from the elimination of Fianna Fáil’s candidate to actually take the seat. On balance we think he’ll fall just short.

Fianna Fáil has entrusted senior counsel Jim O’Callaghan with the task of regaining the seat for the party. O’Callaghan is a member of the party’s front bench, acting as its legal advisor or shadow attorney general. A brother of TV personality Miriam O’Callaghan he cuts a distinguished figure on the campaign trail.

He would be a popular member of the Leinster House club but with Fianna Fáil still in the doldrums in Dublin attaining a seat in this four seater will still be a tough task. He will need to benefit from a general upswing in Fianna Fáil popularity to get into the frame here.

People Before Profit’s Annette Mooney, independent Cllr. Mannix Flynn and Gleanna Lynch of the Social Democrats are likely to be also-rans in this race. Cllr. Flynn has attracted a solid 1,200 to 1,300+ votes in each election he has contested.  We expect to see a similar result here. 

Another man on the redemption trail is leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan. He is aiming to regain the seat formerly held in this constituency by John Gormley. This election sees Ryan return to an area he once represented on Dublin City Council, although we was previously a TD for the neighbouring constituency of Dublin South.

The Green Party had a good local elections here winning seats in both of the constituency’s local electoral areas.  Ryan also put in an impressive performance in the European elections securing 12.5% in the Dublin constituency and attracting transfers from all sides to eventually just miss out on a seat in the European Parliament. A similar performance will see him succeed on this occasion.

The Green Party paid a heavy price for its role in the last coalition government. This may be the first sign that the Irish people have begun to forgive them.

Watch out for:  Candidates seeking notoriety by taking pot shots at Lucinda Creighton.  Fianna Fáil attacking both man and ball in efforts to take a seat ahead of Chris Andrews.

Our Prediction: Creighton (Renua), Murphy (Fine Gael), Ryan (Green Party), Humphreys (Labour).

You can track all of Statler and Waldorf’s constituency profiles here.

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  • An interesting thing about Terenure is that there is a local campaign to build up a local identity, rather than just a place people commute for. The people running it turned around the rugby club, and just happen to be Green Party members. So when there was a Green Party weekend on a plan C for the Irish economy, we were invited to Terenure.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It will be a tight race for Ryan, Andrews and O’Callaghan for a seat, a lot may depend on where the Labour Party voters go after Humphreys gets in or falls out. A lot will probably stay at home, which is probably not in Ryan’s favour as Ryan does have the advantage in that he is not one of the two big parties attacking the Labour Party this time around, but then Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil will be benefiting from new young voters angry at the government based upon the demographic charts you put up earlier.

    So Greens success will probably rely on becoming a de facto Labour 2nd Candidate/Alternative candidate in some regard, which I think will fail.

    He had a good European election, but his main rivals have been more native to the constituency.

    I’d go Fine Gael, Renua, Labour, Sinn Féin.

  • mickfealty

    Possibly. Turnout likely down from 2011, and more like 02/07. But I don’t think you are right to put them that close to Labour, in fact they could benefit from the enormous squeeze Labour is likely to face.

    The boys are right to highlight his enormous mobility in the EP elections in the later counts. For me that was an indication that the rage against the Greens (which was mostly amongst their Labour facing end) was/is over.

    Ryan was broadly (if sometimes reluctantly) regarded as competent as a minister, and a sticker in hard times. I’d say he’s a good (and their only) bet.

    Lucinda could be an outside bet to lose her seat here: FG have to target her to get their second candidate in. Looks hard for O’Callaghan, but the party are trying to get him everywhere they can, and (I’m told) he has half decent team.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The squeeze to the Labour vote will be made by ex-Labour voters who voted Labour to keep out Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil the last time.

    They might feel the Labour Party let them down in government, but I don’t think they are going to simply back Fianna Fáil or a Fianna Fáil Nua candidate running for Sinn Féin simply for getting red in the face with opportunistic agitprop.

    They are probably cynically enough to see this as merely the lust for power rather than reformist anger at work. Many of these voters will now be in the middle aged 35-55 demographic that both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil seem to struggle with compared to the rival “Independent” block. That’s why I think it is far more likely for Labour swing votes to go for Ryan and maybe the AAA, but they rejected these groups at the polls too.

    The Labour squeeze is an effect but not a phenomenon. There are two forces that can explain the Labour squeeze, Swing and Switch-off.

    I think enough of last time’s Labour supporters will show up to put a Labour Candidate in, even if they don’t they may get enough transfers from any Fine Gael second candidate losing out, but not enough to put in Ryan or anyone else in.

    In my opinion Ryan will be the main beneficiary of swing votes from Labour not Sinn Féin or Fianna Fail. Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil will benefit from Labour voter apathy, Sinn Féin will win over Fianna Fáil simply targeting more new voters.

    If Lucinda loses the seat, I’d have to bet it goes to the second Fine Gael candidate. I’d think her transfers would put in Humphreys.

  • Ernekid

    If Lucinda loses her seat would that make Renua Dead on Arrival? They can then added to growing list of failed political parties on this island

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think Fine Gael have their work cut out to get her seat and it’s unlikely anyone else could take it, unless they move closer to the Fine Gael center-ground than is comfortable for them. It would involve too much double talk for Sinn Féin and too many u-turns for Fianna Fáil.

  • Robin Keogh

    Lucinda is home free here, it would be a miracle if she lost that seat

  • Tochais Siorai

    Whilst he has moved from another constituency in political terms, Ryan is actually from the area and was a member of the local party branch before he transferred to Dublin South (because John Gormley was in situ). He’s a stronger candidate than JG was and I reckon he’ll make it over the line a bit handier than Humphreys. As Mick notes below, it mightn’t be all plain sailing for Lucinda either.

    (Bit of a typo in the headline – Dublin Bay South, not Dublin S-E anymore)

  • Kevin Breslin

    Slight changes my analysis a bit, I never ruled out Ryan from the contest merely saying he probably needs enough disillusioned ex Labour voters/Labour transfers to get in. Sinn Féin’s traditional act of being transferphobic might undermine their first count, but the Dublin local elections and a few first time voters entering the mix does make it really hard for Ryan. He could possible take the Labour seat, that would be a real disaster for the Labour Party.