With the next General Election being expected to be announced soon, UCC Express Staff Writer & Political Activist Stephen Spillane writes in-detail about each of the constituencies in Cork and who he expects to win
*Denotes sitting TD, **Denotes sitting Senator
Cork East (4 Seats)
Candidates: Barbara Ahern (FF), Tom Barry (FG)*, Paul Bradford (RN)**, Pat Buckley (SF), Claire
Cullinane (Ind), Ken Curtin (SD), Natasha Harty (GP), Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) Claire Leonardi-Roche (AAA-PBP), Kieran McCarthy (Ind), Noel McCarthy (FG), Kevin O’Keeffe (FF), Sean Sherlock (Lab)*, David Stanton (FG)*
Possible Candidates: Sandra McLellan (Ind)*
This is a vast constituency stretching from Fermoy and Mitchelstown in North Cork all the way to Youghal on the Waterford border taking in Midleton and Cobh also.
The 2011 General Election saw Labour’s Sean Sherlock topping the poll with just over 20% of the vote, a feat he will find very hard to repeat with Labour’s current polling.
Sinn Fein here are also in a spot of bother. Their TD Sandra McLellan has left the party, but hasn’t yet confirmed that she is out of this year’s election. The independent candidate Kieran McCarthy is a former member of Sinn Fein who was expelled last year over complaints. This of course leaves a difficult job for Pat Buckley to hold on to the seat for Sinn Fein.
Fine Gael are re-running their two sitting candidates David Stanton and Tom Barry and should see both re-elected. This time round they are joined on the ticket by Noel McCarthy a local councillor and a former member of the Labour party acting as a sweeper here.
Fianna Fail certainly have a hope of regaining a seat here. Running two family Dynasties here should mean they are betting high here. Barbara Ahern, related to former TD Michael Ahern, and Kevin O’Keeffe, son of former TD Ned O’Keeffe, have an end of the vast constituency each should definitely see one of the two elected, our money is on second time out Kevin.
For the smaller parties there are a variety of candidates running. Senator Paul Bradford, husband of Lucinda, is flying the flag for ReNua. This will be Bradford’s first time running in the constituency since 2009. Ken Curtin is the Social Democrat’s only candidate in Cork and so will be flying the flag high in the rebel county, but how many voters in Cork East will the former FF man get?
Predications: David Stanton (FG), Kevin O’Keeffe (FF), Tom Barry (FG) and Kieran McCarthy (Ind)
We believe Sandra McLellan may get the seat instead of Kieran McCarthy if she runs
Cork North Central (4 Seats)
Candidates: Mick Barry (AAA- PBP), Thomas Gould (SF), Billy Kelleher (FF)*, Thomas Kiely (Ind/CPPC), Kathleen Lynch (Lab)*, Oliver Moran (GP), Dara Murphy (FG)*, Jonathan O’Brien (SF)*, Julie O’Leary (FG) Aislinn Tongue (Ind), Ted Tynann (WP), Possible Candidates: Noel O’Flynn (Ind).
This constituency is the left’s big hope in Cork. But with the addition of Bishopstown into this constituency it may save the Fine Gael seat in the area.
Last time out Jonathan O’Brien of Sinn Fein topped the poll with 15% of the vote. This hardworking TD will more than likely again top the poll, but that will depend on the vote of his running mate Cllr Thomas Gould who is also based in the city side of the constituency.
If Sinn Fein don’t pick up two seats here, Mick Barry of the Socialist Party (here as AAA-PBP) will certainly pick up the parties first seat in Cork. In 2011 he had 9% of the vote and with Labour’s vote down, he looks set to reap the reward and join the Dáil.
Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher is known for the constituency organisation and should be returned to the Dáil. With no running mate to worry about Billy can focus all his energy on the campaign against everyone else. The only possible fly in the ointment is if former Fianna Fail TD and father of current FF City Councillor Ken O’Flynn, Noel O’Flynn decides to run as an independent. Noel stepped aside in 2011 but may feel he has a chance again.
Labour’s Kathleen Lynch is in the fight of her life here. Following Labour’s collapse at the 2014 Local Elections, Kathleen will be hard pushed to hold on to a seat here. It may take a miracle, but politics has always taught us not to write anyone off, if anyone can pull it off its Kathleen.
Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy too will be in a fight to keep his seat and it may be Labour’s transfers that get him in. It has not been an easy term for Dara and he may suffer at the election because of it. Recently Fine Gael have added Julie O’Leary a member of Young Fine Gael and UCC Graduate and Barrister to the ticket in Cork North Central. This is Julie’s first election and is Fine Gael’s youngest candidate in the election.
Predications: Jonathan O’Brien (SF), Billy Kelleher (FF), Dara Murphy (FG), Mick Barry (AAA-PBP),
Cork North West (3 Seats)
Candidates: Aine Collins (FG)*, Michael Creed (FG)*, Nigel Dennehy (SF), Jason Fitzgerald (RN), Shirley Griffin (Ind/CPPC), Cormac Manning (GP), Aindrias Moynihan (FF), Michael Moynihan (FF)*, Diarmuid O’Flynn (Ind/Ind All), Steven O’Riordan (Ind), John Paul O’Shea (Ind)
This mainly rural constituency runs from Ballincollig in the South to Charleville in the North and to the Kerry border in the West taking in Macroom and the surrounding area. Rural issues will be a big issue here.
Fianna Fail should definitely keep their seat in this constituency and will be hoping for a second in the form of Aindrias Moynihan a local Councillor in Macroom.
On a good day Fine Gael should hold its two seats in the area. Michael Creed and Aine Collins are well known in the constituency, but Aine is the more vulnerable of the two and should Fianna Fail win a second seat it will be to her cost.
There is a few independent challengers who are well known and will make a good shot of taking a seat. Diarmuid O’Flynn, a journalist and campaigner who is heavily involved in the ‘Ballyhea Says No’ protests against the bank bailouts, is running as an independent associated with the Independent Alliance. O’Flynn ran in the European Elections and polled over 30,000 votes across Ireland South.
Other possible winners include John Paul O’Shea the County Mayor who topped the poll in the Mallow – Kanturk Local Electoral Area with just over 20% of the vote. While Mallow itself is in the neighbouring Cork East Constituency, a good part of the north and west of the Area are within the Cork North West Constituency and this will stand to O’Shea.
Another high profile name is Steven O’Riordan, brother of Joanna O’Riordan. O’Riordan has been a campaigner on many issues including disability and the survivors of Mother and Baby Homes. He may get a good vote, but will it be enough to get him over the line.
ReNua’s only other Cork Candidate is running in this area, Jason Fitzgerald a farming and community activist. Cormac Manning of Ballincollig is flying the flag for the Green Party, while Nigel Dennehy of Rylan is representing the hopes of Sinn Fein.
The Labour party have not yet selected a candidate for this constituency.
Predications: Michael Creed (FG), Michael Moynihan (FF) and Aine Collins (FG)
Cork South Central (4 Seats)
Candidates: Lorna Bogue (GP), Jerry Buttimer (FG)*, Simon Coveney (FG)*, Mick Finn (Ind/Ind All), Elizabeth Hourihane (Ind) Ciaran Lynch (Lab)*, Micheál Martin (FF)*, Michael McGrath (FF)*, Michael Mohally (Ind/CPPC), Diarmuid O’Cadhla (Ind/CPPC), Jim O’Connell (AAA-PBP), Donnchadh Ó’Laoighaire (SF), Fiona Ryan (AAA-PBP)
This constituency will be a tough one for the sitting candidates let alone the new ones as it is reduced from a five seater to a four seater constituency. It also includes heavy hitters in all its sitting TDs.
Fianna Fail are well placed to hold on to its two seats in the constituency. Party Leader Micheal Martin and popular finance spokesman Michael McGrath. These two candidates could end up damaging each other as they fight to top the poll, with the smart money being on McGrath to top the poll, but if the vote management doesn’t go right, it could but Martin’s seat in danger.
Labour’s Ciaran Lynch is in a fight for political survival. The current Chair of the Banking Inquiry witnessed the Labour Party Councillors within the constituency being wiped out in the 2014 Local Elections, which does not bode well for his chances. Meanwhile Labour’s standings in the polls nationally won’t be of comfort to Lynch either. He will either be elected or else his tranfers will decide who does get elected.
The Fine Gael ticket in the constituency is also a high profile one. Minister for Agriculture and Defence Simon Coveney and Chair or the Health Committee Jerry Buttimer form a formidable team. But the challenge will be on for the party to hold two seats in the constituency. Buttimer is well known for his on the ground operation and for the fact he has been continually canvassing, while Coveney is a popular politician and talk of being the next leader of Fine Gael certainly won’t damage his chances.
Sinn Fein are putting their hopes in County Councillor Donnacha O’Laoighaire. O’Laoighaire who represents the Carrigaline-Ballincollig area on the County Council is from the Togher area of the Constituency. He beat the former Sinn Fein Candidate, Cllr Chris O’Leary, for the nomination. Expect O’Laoighaire to be in strong contention for the final seat, but unless Sinn Fein can improve its ability at getting Transfers, it may be a bridge too far for O’Laoighaire.
Of the Independents, City Councillor Mick Finn, who topped the South Central Ward of the City in the 2014 Local Elections is one to watch. He ran in the 2011 General Election where he polled 3% of the vote. Expect that figure to rise substantially in this election. Will it rise enough to be a challenge is debateable but expect him to feature as we get closer to the election.
Predications: Michael McGrath (FF), Simon Coveney (FG), Michael Martin (FF) and Jerry Buttimer (FG). We believe Donnacha O’Laoighaire (SF) will be in serious contention for the last seat.
Cork South West (3 Seats)
Candidates: Michael Collins (Ind), Alan Coleman (Ind), Jim Daly (FG)*, Noel Harrington (FG)*, Michael McCarthy (Lab)*, Rachel McCarthy (SF), Mary Murphy-O’Mahony (FF), Johnny O’Mahony (GP). Possible Candidates: Theresa Heaney (CD)
Cork South West is one of the longest constituencies in Ireland, running from the end of the Beara Peninsula to Kinsale. This makes it a though constituency to canvass.
Fianna Fail are poised to take back the seat they lost to Labour’s Michael McCarthy in the 2011 election with all their energies focused on Cllr Mary Murphy-O’Mahony. With the Labour vote down and this constituency once known as the most conservative in the country, it could see Fianna Fail returning a seat. While it was expected that Cllr Alan Coleman would be the name on ticket as he came ahead of Murphy-O’Mahony in the 2014 Locals in the Bandon-Kinsale area, but the party went with Murphy-O’Mahony leave Coleman to run as an independent. Expect Cllr Coleman to be in the running for the last seat.
For Fine Gael, Jim Daly from Bandon and Noel Harrington in Beara, seem geographically set to hold on to their two seats. But with the Fine Gael vote down since the 2011 General Election, Harrington would seem the more vulnerable of the two. Jim Daly’s more central location could give him a bump, and the fact that his constituency office in Bandon has also been affected by the flooding in the area can show is not the above the problems in the locality.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy is Sinn Fein’s hope in this Constituency. In the 2014 Locals she polled 56 votes more than Alan Coleman, so certainly will be in the mix for the last seat along with Fine Gael’s Harrington and the Independent Cllr Coleman.
Prediction: Mary Murphy-O’Mahony (FF), Jim Daly (FG), and Noel Harrington (FG)