AFTER ALL the recent paeans of praise lavished upon Richard Bruton, the former minister and former leader of a failed coup in Fine Gael, the real question is what effect his absence will have on the constituency of Dublin Bay North (DBN).
All the other parties are like vultures circling Bruton’s political carrion as they know that up to 50% of his vote was a personal one given his tireless parish pump work – sorry, his commitment to his constituents and the national interest. However, it is Fianna Fáil TD and constituency rival Seán Haughey who is best placed to plunder the Bruton vote as a large proportion of those who voted for either Richard Bruton or Seán Haughey in recent years often voted for both of them.
This ageing but high-voting section of the electorate are likely to stick with Haughey, who will need this fillip to retain his seat. Apart from FF’s wavering popularity, Haughey must also contend with a share of his vote in the Artane area being moved to Dublin North-West, which will see him lose 5/600 votes.
Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí, a former lord mayor, enjoys strong support from local FG members and will likely be elected to run, while the 40% gender quota imperative will see councillor Aoibhinn Tormey join him on the party ticket. Ó Muirí’s base is in Clontarf, while Tormey is a councillor at the opposite end of DBN in Howth Malahide, but Ó Muirí is the premier candidate and will take Bruton’s seat for the Blueshirts.
Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell and her likely running mate, councillor Micheál Mac Donncha (another former lord mayor), will likely be unaffected by Bruton’s departure. But while the politically avaricious mood in SF sees party handlers scouring five-seat constituencies for potential triple crowns, the party is unlikely to go for it in DBN, despite Mitchell taking nearly 30% of first-preference votes when standing alone in 2020.
What might be seen as a seminal result in this constituency will be the outcome of the competition between TDs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Labour) and Cian O’Callaghan (Social Democrats housing spokesperson). Ó Ríordáin lost his seat in Labour’s 2016 wipe-out but spent the following four years doing constituency work to claw it back. He has not managed to maintain this level of local work since, while O’Callaghan certainly has and is poised to take advantage in an election any time soon.
O’Callaghan has also become almost as accomplished in the vital, complex area of housing as SF’s Eoin Ó Broin.
However, it may be that the real competition will be between Ó Ríordáin and Haughey as they both fight for survival.
The slightly modified DBN constituency is likely to return SF’s Mitchell and Mac Donncha, FG’s Ó Muirí and the Soc Dems’ O’Callaghan, while Haughey and Ó Ríordáin battle it out for the last seat.