This is my first general election in my new home in cozy Dublin West, a largely suburban constituency that takes in a wide swathe of upper, middle and working class areas between Castleknock, Blanchardstown, Mulhuddart, Clonsilla, Ongar and my own little patch in Ashtown. It’s one of the most redrawn electoral areas in the land, and Ashtown lies right at the border: a five minute walk to the east is Dublin Central (a reality that means candidates in either constituency often find themselves dealing with constituents from the other).
Local issues – in Ashtown that is – would be housing (both the need for it, and concerns about suburban sprawl as block after block goes up), the status of the Pelletstown Educate Together school, the status of the proposed Pelletstown Train Station, a desire for more amenities in an area that has seen its population go up sharply and rent prices.
There are ten declared candidates in Dublin West, but there is still plenty of time for more to be declared, and I’m sure there will be more (which I will add as they declare: I believe the 21st of this month is the cut-off). Below are snapshots of the candidates, with some links to their respective websites, along with a very cursory assessment of their chances (something more detailed to follow).
TD for over twenty years in two sittings. One time leader of the Labour Party, but that isn’t exactly a great feather in the cap given the circumstances. Clung on in 2016 despite record unpopularity and a significant shift in constituency boundaries. If she survived that, she should be OK for a seat you would think.
Failed Presidential and MEP candidate. A flip-flopping Trump wannabe indulged too much by a bored media, running here as a political stunt while he targets an actual seat in Donegal. Not likely to challenge, but may upset things for others.
TD since 2016, formally a councillor. Something of a “One to watch” being under 30. Very firmly in Fianna Fail’s conservative wing. Didn’t make any waves in the last Dail really, but might be poised for something more. Very likely to retain his seat.
Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
TD since 2014, once of the Socialist Party. Very well-known for her various anti-government stances on housing, water charges, and multinational tax breaks. Her party numbers collapsed in the locals, and in her own area too. Must be considered vulnerable.
Councillor elected last year in Castleknock. Doesn’t exactly have a huge profile. Obviously hoping that a massive surplus from her constituency colleague, and some careful vote/area management, will get her over the line, but this feels more like laying groundwork for a more substantial run in a few years.
Councillor for Mulhuddart since 2011. This will be his fifth tilt at the Dail in the constituency, and his vote has increased every time. But given Sinn Fein’s poor showing in the locals around here, one suspects 2016 was his best chance.
One of twenty candidates from Peadar Toibin’s struggling entity. Ran last year in Castleknock locals where he didn’t do too badly, but was still nowhere near a seat. Unlikely that Aontu will pick up Dail representation here.
Councillor for Castleknock since 2014, O’Gorman has been the leading figure for the Greens in the area for over ten years now. This is his 6th run at the Dail, and he would need to treble his numbers from that run to have a shot. His impressive showing in the locals bodes well.
I have no idea who this guy is, I just happened to spot his name on Dublin County Returning Officer page of declared candidates and then found what I think is his Twitter page. He’s listed as having an address in Cork? Appears to have put his name down for a load of Cork and Dublin constituencies. Hasn’t got a prayer.
Stephen O’Loughlin (Independent)
Former Social Democrat, ran in Cabra-Glasnevin locals last year, with little success. Might benefit a bit from being the only candidate based in Ashtown. Still unlikely to seriously challenge.
Aengus O’Maolain (Social Democrats)
First time GE candidate having run and got nowhere in Ongar last year. O’Maolain will be the first Social Democrat to contest this constituency. Likely to be a case of just putting someone up in every race going. Very slim chance of challenging.
TD since 2007, and Taoiseach since 2017, Leo Varadkar is the leader of both the country (for now) and Fine Gael. Regardless of any pain his party might feel in this vote, Varadkar’s seat is as sure as sure can be. He’ll still probably top the poll.
This may work out to be one of the most boring constituencies of the election, as I would think a not unlikely outcome is for the four sitting TD’s to all be returned, albeit with some vote fluctuation. But O’Gorman’s growing popularity, and the left wings’ recent struggles, can’t be ignored either. If I was to hazard a simple prediction at this early stage:
At this stage I would predict that the Burton/Coppinger/Donnelly battle will be the biggest fight of this area, but Labour’s recovery in the locals indicates to me that Burton should be favoured. The others all have big tasks just to be competitive.
Tomorrow, I will offer some thoughts on the national picture.
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