Thursday, 20 Feb 2020

Shane Coleman: 'One thing is sure: it's all to play for…'

In three weeks’ time, the counting of votes will be under way. Twenty days out from polling day, here are my predictions on how each constituency might play out.

Carlow-Kilkenny (5 seats)

John McGuinness and Bobby Aylward of Fianna Fail and John Paul Phelan (FG) look safe. Then it’s between FG’s Pat Deering, FF’s Jennifer Murnane O’Connor, SF’s Kathleen Funchion and Malcolm Noonan of the Greens for the final two seats.

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Prediction: FF 3 (+1), FG 1 (-1), Greens 1 (+1), SF 0 (-1)

Cavan Monaghan

(5 seats – one extra seat)

Minister Heather Humphreys, SF’s Matt Carthy and FF’s Brendan Smith look bankers. Niamh Smyth of FF should retain her seat. It’s a battle for the final seat between FG, FF and SF. It should be FG but don’t rule out Monaghan-based Robbie Gallagher for FF.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 2 (+1), SF 1

Clare (4 seats)

FG should hold its two seats and FF’s Timmy Dooley looks safe. Clare has a habit of throwing up surprises, but FF councillor Cathal Crowe – an outspoken critic of the RIC commemoration – is the most likely to join three incumbents.

Prediction: FF 2 (+1), FG 2, Ind 0 (-1)

Cork East (4 seats)

The first three seats look straightforward with outgoing deputies David Stanton (FG), Kevin O’Keeffe (FF) and Sean Sherlock (Lab) tipped to be re-elected. SF had a poor 2019 local election result, so TD Pat Buckley could be vulnerable to one of the big two.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1, Lab 1

Cork North-Central (4 seats)

With three of the TDs elected here four years ago not running, this is hugely unpredictable. The remaining TD from 2016, Mick Barry of Solidarity isn’t safe. Recent by-election victor Padraig O’Sullivan (FF) is the banker. There should be a FG seat though Colm Burke isn’t rock solid. Thomas Gould may retain Jonathan O’Brien’s SF seat. The prospect of a Cork Taoiseach may just see FF scrape out a second seat.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, SF 1, AAA-PBP 0 (-1)

Cork North-West (3 seats)

One FF, one FG and a straight shoot-out between the big two for the final seat. With two incumbents, FF may just have the edge.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1

Cork South Central (4 seats)

The three big political beasts Simon Coveney (FG), Micheal Martin (FF) and Michael McGrath (FF) are bankers. The only question is whether Senator Jerry Buttimer of FG or the Green’s Lorna Bogue can unseat SF TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire?

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, SF 1

Cork South-West (3 seats)

FF’s Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony and Independent Michael Collins should retain their seats. Even without Jim Daly, there should be a FG seat here but their ticket is struggling. A shock second FF seat?

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, Ind 1

Donegal (5 seats)

Four of the five TDs look safe: Minister Joe McHugh, FF’s Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher and Charlie McConalogue and SF’s Pearse Doherty. SF is targeting Independent Thomas Pringle’s seat but based on the local elections, it’s a big ask.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, SF 1, Ind 1

Dublin Bay North (5 seats)

FG minister Richard Bruton will top the poll and FF’s Sean Haughey will also hold on. The Greens’ David Healy should join them. SF TD Denise Mitchell may just hang on. With Finian McGrath gone, there’s a dog fight for the final seat between Independent Tommy Broughan, Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain and possibly Cian O’Callaghan of the Social Democrats.

Prediction: FF 1, FG1, SF 1, Green 1 (+1), Lab 1 (+1), Ind 0 (-2)

Dublin Bay South (4 seats)

Greens’ Eamon Ryan will romp home. Eoghan Murphy (FG) will be fine. FF’s poor performance in the locals suggests Jim O’Callaghan is vulnerable. But this constituency prides itself on electing would-be ministers. It’s between him, FG’s Kate O’Connell and Labour senator Kevin Humphreys for the final two seats.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 2, Green 1

Dublin Central (4 seats – one extra seat)

Mary Lou McDonald (SF)and Paschal Donohoe (FG) are safe. FF’s Mary Fitzpatrick’s time should finally come. Labour’s Joe Costello and Social Democrats’ Gary Gannon cannot be ruled out. But the Greens’ Neasa Hourigan is favoured.

Prediction: FF 1 (+1), FG 1, SF 1, Green 1 (+1), Ind 0 (-1)

Dublin Fingal (5 seats)

New Green TD Joe O’Brien is safe. As is FF’s Darragh O’Brien and probably FG’s Alan Farrell. SF had a poor outing here in the locals but with Clare Daly in Europe, Louise O’Reilly may be ok. Duncan Smith should hold the traditional Labour seat.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1, Green 1 (+1), Lab 1, Ind 0 (-1)

Dublin Mid-West (4 seats)

SF pulled off a surprise win in the recent by-election but won’t hold its two seats. Eoin Ó Broin of SF, FF’s John Curran and Emer Higgins will be elected. It’s between incumbent Gino Kenny of PBP, the Greens and former Green Paul Gogarty for the fourth.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1, Ind 1 (+1), PBP 0 (-1)

Dublin North-West (3 seats)

(SD) Roisin Shortall is safe and, despite some internal party problems, SF’s Dessie Ellis should be too. Noel Rock did incredibly well to win an FG seat here for the first time in a quarter of a century. But the wind is behind FF’s impressive Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe.

Prediction: FF 1 (+1), SF 1, Soc Dems 1, FG 0 (-1)

Dublin Rathdown (3 seats)

A constituency that likes turfing out previous poll toppers, so Shane Ross (Ind) isn’t safe. FG Minister Josepha Madigan and Green TD Catherine Martin are bankers. FF can’t be entirely ruled out here.

Prediction: FG 1, Green 1, Ind 1

Dublin South-Central (4 seats)

FF’s Catherine Ardagh will make up for narrowly missing out four years ago. SF’s Aengus O Snodaigh should be fine, but one of Joan Collins (Independents 4 Change) and Brid Smith (PBP) will probably lose out. Minister Catherine Byrne may sink under a Green tide.

Prediction: FF 1 (+1), FG 0 (-1), SF 1, Green 1 (+1), PBP 1, Ind 0 (-1)

Dublin South-West (5 seats)

(S-PBP) Paul Murphy is under pressure. Sean Crowe should be OK for SF. FG’s Colm Brophy will hold his seat. There’s at least one FF seat, but TD John Lahart will be keeping an eye on running mate Charlie O’Connor. The Greens’ Francis Noel Duffy should gain a seat which leaves it between (Ind) Katherine Zappone and Murphy for the final seat. The minister’s ability to attract transfers could be key.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF1, Greens 1 (+1), Ind 1, Rise 0 (-1)

Dublin West (4 seats)

The local elections point to a likely Green gain with Roderic O’Gorman joining the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and FF’s Jack Chambers in the Dail. Then it’s one from Labour’s Joan Burton, Solidarity’s Ruth Coppinger and SF’s Paul Donnelly. It looks an uphill struggle for Burton.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, Greens 1 (+1), Solidarity 1, Lab 0 (-1)

Dun Laoghaire (4 seats)

FF has the votes to take a seat and the Greens must surely gain here. For FG, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor will be fine but has Jennifer Carroll MacNeill had enough time to build a profile? Against that, (S-PBP) Richard Boyd Barrett has never looked more vulnerable.

Prediction: FF 1 (+1), FG 2 (-1), Greens 1 (+1), PBP 0 (-1)

Galway East (3 seats)

No change.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, Ind 1

Galway West (5 seats)

FF’s Eamon O Cuiv, Independents Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly and Hildegarde Naughton should all hold their seats. FG’s Sean Kyne might be vulnerable if FF had a particularly good day or if the Green surge reached the west.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 2, Ind 2

Kerry (5 seats)

The Healy-Rae juggernaut will see Michael and Danny back in Leinster House. They’ll be joined by FG’s Brendan Griffin and FF’s John Brassil. The real contest is the battle of Tralee between FF’s Norma Foley and SF’s Pa Daly.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1, Ind 2

Kildare North (4 seats)

Labour has high hopes for Emmet Stagg here but the local elections suggest otherwise. Soc Dems’ Catherine Murphy should be fine. FG should take one. FF surprised everyone here last time taking two seats but can they hold them both or will Stagg or the Greens eat their lunch?

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, SD 1

Kildare South (4 seats – an extra seat but Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail automatically returned)

FF and FG will each take one of the remaining three seats here, leaving the final seat between Labour’s Mark Wall, Independent Fiona McLoughlin Healy and FF. Tight.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, Lab 1

Laois/Offaly (5 seats)

FG minister Charlie Flanagan, FF duo Sean Fleming and Barry Cowen look nailed on. SF did badly here in the locals but Brian Stanley should hold on. Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy is at risk. It’s probably between her and FF for the final seat but a left fielder, such as the Greens, is possible.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 2, SF 1

Limerick City (4 seats)

Willie O’Dea (FF) will top the poll by a country mile but can he bring in a running mate? Minus Michael Noonan, the FG ticket isn’t strong but there will be one seat for the party. That leaves two from FF’s James Collins, Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan, Maurice Quinlivan of SF and Green councillor Brian Leddin.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, Lab 1

Limerick County (3 seats)

No change.

Prediction: FG 2, FF 1.

Longford-Westmeath (4 seats)

Longford is the only county without a TD or senator – that should change. Labour’s seat here went with Willie Penrose. FF’s Robert Troy, FG’s Peter Burke and Independent Boxer Moran will be back in the Dail. Then it’s a battle for Longford between councillors Micheal Carrigy (FG) and Joe Flaherty (FF). Advantage FF.

Prediction: FF 2 (+1), FG 1, Ind 1, Lab 0 (-1)

Louth (5 seats)

Without Gerry Adams, SF won’t hold two seats. Also hard to see FG retaining two. Declan Breathnach (FF) will top the poll and FG’s Fergus O’Dowd is also safe. One of SF’s Imelda Munster and Ruairi O Murchu will join them. Then it’s between Labour’s Ged Nash, Independent (and ex-FG) TD Peter Fitzpatrick, Green Mark Dearey and FG’s John McGahon for the final two seats. Impossible to call.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1 (-1), SF 1 (-1), Lab 1 (+1), Ind 1 (+1)

Mayo (4 seats)

Lots of talk about Saoirse McHugh making a historic breakthrough here. Left field candidates have won in Mayo before but usually the big two dominate. The gut says they will again.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 2

Meath East (3 seats)

No change.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 2

Meath West (3 seats)

No change here although this time Peadar Toibin will win for Aontu, not SF.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, Aontu 1

Roscommon-Galway (3 seats)

This constituency had the highest independent vote in the country in last year’s locals. That points to Denis Naughten and Michael Fitzmaurice holding their seats.

Prediction: FF 1, Ind 2

Sligo-Leitrim (4 seats)

Marian Harkin’s declaration has thrown the cat among the pigeons – bad news for Fianna Fail and its two TDs. But FG’s ticket, without deputy Tony McLoughlin, is weak. SF’s Martin Kenny may lose out.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, Ind 1 (+1), SF 0 (-1).

Tipperary (5 seats)

FG surely has to win a seat here after drawing a blank last time. There’ll be one FF seat. Michael Lowry is guaranteed. And fellow independent Mattie McGrath should be fine. Fifth seat is likely between Labour’s Alan Kelly and WUAG’s Seamus Healy (Ind).

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1 (+1), Lab 1, Ind 2 (-1)

Waterford (4 seats)

22,000 first preference votes up for grabs with the departures of John Halligan, John Deasy and Paudie Coffey. FF will win one – it’s hoping for two. FG should win one but its team is untested. SF’s David Cullinane is likely safe. Then it’s Green Marc O Cathasaigh, Labour’s John Pratt and Independent Matt Shanahan in the hunt for the final seat.

Prediction: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1, Green 1 (+1), Ind 0 (-1)

Wexford (5 seats)

The two FF TDs should be returned as will Brendan Howlin. FG has two TDs but there’s probably only one seat here between Paul Kehoe and Michael D’Arcy. Former FG candidate Verona Murphy and Cllr Ger Carthy are in a battle to take the independent seat vacated by Mick Wallace. A third FF seat is possible.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 1, Lab 1, Ind 1

Wicklow (5 seats)

The two FG seats look solid but lots of talk that FF won’t hold its two. But Stephen Donnelly’s national profile will help. The seat of SF’s John Brady is vulnerable. The Greens are in with a shout here, too.

Prediction: FF 2, FG 2, SF 1.

Overall prediction

Fianna Fail 55

Fine Gael 46

Sinn Fein 17

Green Party 11

Solidarity/PBP 2

Social Democrats 2

Independents 18

Labour Party 8

Aontu 1

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