#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


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.

Statler and Waldorf are two former political party muppets who have 30 years’ experience in Irish politics.  They now specialise in providing analysis from the sidelines.

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