#GE16 Dublin North-West: Final seat a game of Finglas/Ballymun musical chairs…

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 17.33.53Dublin North-West

Current TDs

  • Roisin Shortall, Social Democrats (elected as Labour Party)
  • John Lyons TD, Labour
  • Dessie Ellis TD, Sinn Féin

Total seats in 2016 General Election: 3

The boundary review added about 11,500 people to this constituency from Drumcondra and areas near the Botanic Gardens that were formerly in Dublin Central.    

Main Areas:

Drumconrda, Finglas, Ballymun, Whitehall, Glasnevin, Santry


  • Dessie Ellis TD, Sinn Féin
  • Cllr. Cathleen Carney Boud, Sinn Féin
  • Ms. Caroline Conroy, Green Party
  • Mr. Jimmy Dignam, Workers Party
  • Cllr. Andrew Keegan, People Before Profit Alliance
  • John Lyons TD, Labour
  • Cllr. Paul McAuliffe, Fianna Fáil
  • Cormac McKay, Direct Democracy Ireland
  • Cllr. Noel Rock, Fine Gael
  • Roisin Shortall TD, Social Democrats

Ten candidates have declared here to date. Two of them are certainties, four have little chance of making any impact (candidates from the Workers Party, PBPA, Greens and DDI) and the remaining four will be involved in an intense battle for the final seat. 

Similar to Dun Laoghaire on the south side, the Fianna Fáil candidate may end up being a target for the Fine Gael and Labour candidates coming from behind for the last seat.

It doesn’t take any great skill at political analysis to say that Roisin Shortall TD will top the poll here again. In 2011 she secured 28.5% of the poll for the Labour Party and was appointed Minister of State for Primary Care in the coalition government.

In 2012 she resigned her ministry and Labour membership, frustrated by the failures of the Government in implementing its programme and particularly the lack of progress with reforms in the Department of Health.

Shortall is an assiduous worker locally. The popularity of her principled stance aided by the addition of her native Drumcondra to the constituency should see her on target to secure over 30% of the vote.

Given that the quota in a three seater is 25% and there are no non-transferable votes in the distribution of a first count surplus (save in exceptional circumstance which we won’t go into just now) the question of where her voters’ second preference go will be one of the most interesting aspects in this constituency.

If any transfer pattern emerges, it will have major implications on the destination of the final seat in this constituency.

The second seat here will surely go to Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis. Ellis has been an active community worker in Finglas for many years and has steadily grown a loyal support base in the area. He’s now equally well established in Ballymun.  Building on an excellent local election result, the party is well on track to continue its rise in the constituency.

There was a small media led kerfuffle in the wake of the selection process for Ellis’s running mate with talk of a row between the two female Sinn Féin councillors in the Ballymun area. Noeleen Reilly topped the poll in the local elections. Her colleague Catherine Carney Boud who represents the Glasnevin/Whitehall area was seen by party strategists as a better complement to Ellis.

This appears to have been a storm in a teacup but it does highlight that when it comes to selection strategies Sinn Féin is taking a very pragmatic approach. This management does not appear to extend to curtailing the vote gathering instincts of the party’s older generation of Republican candidates. 

It seems that the socialist principle of from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs does not apply to first preference votes. To achieve two seats Sinn Féin would need to achieve above 40% and share it equally between the candidates.

With Ellis powering through the quota it’s likely that Carney Boud will remain involved until very late in the count meaning that when she is eliminated there will only be, at most, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour candidates left to benefit from transfers.

One would expect a lot of non-transferrable votes from her to this batch. This may have the effect of lowering the overall target for the remaining candidates. This will be vital, as achieving a quota of 25% would appear beyond Labour and Fianna Fáil candidates in this election.

There are question marks over each of the remaining 3 candidates. Notably for Dublin all of themare young men who are native of the constituency. They appear evenly matched and one of them will have to succeed.

Fine Gael have not held a seat in this constituency since 1992 when it was a four seater. It seems illogical to suggest that party can improve on its 2011 outcome when the party is less popular nationally. However, there are some factors in its favour. 

Firstly it has decided upon a single candidate strategy which will consolidate its vote. The addition of a largely middle-class area around Drumcondra village should also help. Cllr. Noel Rock is only 28 years of age and is a native of Ballymun.

This factor could also prove vital in attracting transfers in later counts particularly if the Labour vote collapses.

John Lyons’ TD is the Labour Party’s flagbearer following the defection of Roisin Shortall. He secured about 14% of the vote for himself in 2011 which was enough to see him into third place on the first count and far enough ahead of his nearest challenger’s to safely take the third seat.

It should be noted that he didn’t need the help of transfers from his then running mate Roisin Shortall. The Labour Party vote in this constituency in the local elections held in the early teens despite the undoubted impact of Shortall’s defection.

Lyons is from Ballymun and was a popular teacher in Glasnevin before his election.

An openly gay man, he has come to prominence nationally for his efforts in promoting the same sex marriage referendum.  If he has been delivering locally, as a backbench TD, then his incumbency should be a benefit and he has a fighting chance of holding the seat that Labour have held in this constituency for over 30 years.

For many years Fianna Fáil dominated this constituency, achieving nearly 49% of the vote in 2007 when both its candidates – Pat Carey and Noel Ahern – were comfortable elected. In 2011 Ahern retired and Carey, faced the wrath of an unforgiving electorate, achieved just over 12%. Fianna Fáil have a new candidate this time. 

Cllr. Paul McAuliffe is also a relatively young man who is a native of the constituency. First elected in 2009, he stood in Ballymun in the 2014 Local Elections.  This was an impressive result considering McAuliffe is a native of Finglas who lost much of his home base into the Cabra – Finglas local election area. 

Being reunited with Finglas should give McAuliffe a fighting chance of getting into the frame in the first count.  If he can get ahead of both his Fine Gael and Labour competitors and if the electorate are in a forgiving mood then McAuliffe may attract transfers in later counts. 

McAuliffe is available at a generous 7/1 odds in the bookies. However his challenge is similar to that of Mary Hanafin in Dun Laoghaire and he will come closer to taking a seat in a constituency with a strong Fianna Fáil tradition than these long odds would indicate.

Watch out for:  Central party campaign funds being pumped to the constituency by party strategists with evidence that this seat is in reach for their candidate as the campaign progresses. Such support will include additional constituency visits by party leaders, extra posters being erected during the course of the campaign, advertisements in local freesheet newspapers or paid literature drops.

Our Prediction:

Roisin Shortall (Social Democrats), Dessie Ellis (Sinn Féin), John Lyons (Labour)

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  • NMS

    Living in the constituency, I would make the following points,

    1) The additional areas are very much AB territory. A house in Iona, which makes up a large part of the area added, will set you back €900,000 or more, depending on size and street. Nice red brick Victorian, mainly four beds, close to town.
    2) When this area was last part of DNW, the four seater returned two FG TDs, Dr. Hugh Byrne & Mary Flaherty.
    3) The average age of the constituency is quite old, most housing other than some built close to M50 is built over sixty years and the occupants reflect it.
    4) The added voters are likely to split between FG, FF, Lab & SocDem.
    5) The LEA covering large parts of the added area, saw LP hold its two councillors, mainly because of serious infighting inside FG, which saw them lose two councillors, while “gaining” Rock.
    6) If FG had a better candidate, then there would be no doubt about a gain here. Rock is a poor candidate He is from Pinewood, which would not describe itself as in Ballymun. Indeed I am old enough to remember the good people of Pinewood building a wall to keep the people of the Ballymun Estate out. I am not sure how attractive Rock is to core FG voters.
    7) Ms. Shortall is originally from the added area. While not universally liked, she is respected and very well known. I think she may not do as well as is imagined, with the more middle class Lab voters staying loyal.
    8) John Lyons taught in St. Vincent’s, which is in the added area. However, unfortunately for him, parents of local children avoid the school like the plague, opting instead for fee paying Belvedere & Loreto, St Stephen’s Green. The other alternative is Scoil Chaitríona, however no longer the school it was.
    9) The FF candidate, McAuliffe is a full-time party SPaD, and will do well to beat Pat Carey’s 12% in 2011.
    10) Lyons is an excellent candidate, however I can’t help feeling that if it had been Cllr. Andrew Montague’s name, there would be no doubts as to where the 3rd seat would be going. Andrew’s family of course are from Tyrone.

    Conclusion: The ex TV repairman, turned bombmaker, turned TD will top the poll. In second place, I would expect to see Ms. Shortall, without a quota. The final seat is between Lyons & Rock. There will be a lot of transfers, with the WP (this is of course Pppp ronsias de Rossa’ s old constituency, the Trot, Andrew Keegan (son of the former LP councillor Billy?), the second Provo, Ms Aboud & of course the Greens will have around 3% plus. If the Provos were able to split their vote, with Ms Aboud slightly ahead of Ellis, then who knows, but it won’t happen. FF transfers to probably decide it. Non-transferables will be high, leaving the last seat very unclear.

  • Greenflag 2

    I also know the constituency having been brought up there and gone to primary and secondary school before we moved and I still know some people who have lived there all their lives . Some of your comment above is inaccurate and misleading and a long way from being even half objective commentary

    First up get the candidates last name right . Is it Aboud or Boud ? Referring to Cathleen Carney Aboud as the second Provo candidate is a poor comment and you should remove it . Your references to Dessie Ellis TD are beyond the pale given that he has been a serving TD now for 10 years ? or more .

    Your reference to St Vincents CBS -Glasnevin is both ignorant and nauseous . Not everyone can afford to send their kids to fee paying rip off private schools . I did’nt go there but I know some people who did and they did ‘well ‘ in life . One St Vincents pupil ended up in London and was the political advisor that got Margaret Thatcher elected as Tory Leader . Patrick Cosgrave . Here’s a link for you to get to know more about ‘your constituency ” and some St VIncent students who did better in life despite having the Christian Brothers beat them abut the ears or worse .


    Councillor Montague is not from Tyrone .He was born in Santry and went to school locally . He is a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and would have been a candidate had Lyons not stood .

    Why is Councillor Andrew Keegan referred to as a Trot ? His party is ‘People before Profit ‘ .

    What you ignore most importantly is that in large areas of this constituency there are many voters if not most who have missed out on the economic recovery . At the last election three left wing candidates were elected making Dublin NW the ‘reddest ‘ constituency in the country . The inclusion of the Drumcondra and Iona Road areas may change the outcome but SF’s vote management here is designed to get a second seat. Ms Aboud’s name will be first on the ballot paper which will help .

    Ellis , Shortall and Rock with the latter getting the elderly FG vote from the Drumcondra /Glasnevin /Iona end . Aboud and Lyons will go close to Rock and both have a good chance of winning the last seat . I’d prefer Lyons or Aboud to Rock but I don’t have a vote in that constiituency.

  • Greenflag 2

    S& Waldorf ,

    Good review apart from your prediction . Last time out FG got 5,500 votes about 3,000 short of a quota for a TD in this constituency . They ran 2 candidates who split the vote between them and neither got a chance to transfer to the other before the count finished . This time around they have that 5,000 plus a chance for more votes from the additional areas . So Rock may snatch the 3rd seat after Ellis and Shorthall . Lyons and Aboud are in with a chance . Can’t see the FF man getting in here -not this time anyway .

  • NMS

    My point about St. Vincent’s is that local children do not go there anymore. Yes, many many years ago, when I was a pupil there, they did. Yes, you are correct that Mr. Cosgrave went there, many years ago, as did the late Frank Cluskey and the former Supreme Court Justice, Mr. Barrington, though both did not grace the secondary school.
    I agree I added a letter to Ms. Boud’s name.

    My description of Dessie Ellis is correct, TV repairman, bombmaker, TD. Which piece are you disputing as incorrect.

    I just found a link to another Vincent’s pass pupil, Patrick Russell
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/lawyer-gave-mcfeely-290000-tax-scam-cash-26895296.html. (also a Provo & a scam artist)

  • Greenflag 2

    You referred to Ms Aboud as the other Provo candidate and Andrew Keegan as a Trot ? Why ? Ms Aboud is an SF candidate and Keegan is People before Profit candidate . You did’nt refer to Mr Rock as the Blueshirt candidate . If you are into bad mouthing candidates why restrict yourself to SF . As for local kids ? Not too many given the age profile in that area is 60 plus mostly with their children long since moved elsewhere . Perhaps they left you behind geographically and politically !

    If you favour a political party fine but don’t try to mislead slugger readers with so called objectivity thinly disguised as anti SF bashing . There’s more than enough of it here already and the only party benefiting from it appears to be SF .