14 May 2009 Edition
Sinn Féin vote set to grow
THE COUNCIL ELECTIONS
THE 2004 Local Government and EU elections set a high electoral benchmark for Sinn Féin. The party had over 60 new councillors (30 of which were poll-toppers). Significant vote increases were registered across the 26 Counties as the party made gains in 31 out of the 33 city and county councils in which it fielded candidates, winning 8% of first preferences. The icing on the cake was two new European Parliament seats.
This week, An Phoblacht begins to profile the key contests for Sinn Féin local and European election candidates in the 2009 poll, beginning with the four Dublin councils that make up the capital’s EU constituency where this year’s election will be one of the most watched on the island as – with only three seats to be won compared to 2004’s four – some parties must come away losers.
We also look at the key council contests in north Leinster, covering Kildare, Louth, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.
BY ROBBIE SMYTH
Dublin’s 14 Sinn Féin councillors
1999 was a breakthrough year for Sinn Féin in Dublin as five new councillors joined Christy Burke in the council chamber. In Dublin City Council, Dessie Ellis, Larry O’Toole and Nicky Kehoe were elected in the Finglas, Artane and Cabra wards. In South Dublin, two new councillors were elected in 1999.
In 2004, Sinn Féin elected 14 councillors across Dublin: 10 in the City Council, where the party won 18% of the total vote. There were also three councillors voted onto South Dublin and the party’s first councillor in Fingal.
This time around, Sinn Féin is seeking to build on the 2004 performance, holding their 14 seats while expanding in other new council wards where candidates are bringing the party message to new voters who have not yet had a chance to vote for Sinn Féin in local elections.
Dublin City Council
There were 13 council wards in Dublin City and in 2004 Sinn Féin elected six more councillors with wins in wards such as Ballyfermot, where the party won 21.17% of first preferences. Councillor Louise Minihan is the party candidate in this key ward in 2009.
Running in Artane in the 2004 local elections, Larry O’Toole secured 4,497 of the first preference votes; 33% of the total votes cast in the Artane Ward. This was the second highest vote achieved by any candidate in the state. A huge vote getter and highly popular republican figure in Dublin, Larry is again running for Sinn Féin in Artane along with Denise Mitchell.
Ray Corcoran topped the poll in Ballymun Whitehall in 2004 with 24.2% of first preferences. Nicky Kehoe topped the poll in Cabra Glasnevin in 2004. This time, sitting Councillor Seamas McGrattan will try and repeat the 2004 performance.
Helen McCormack is the candidate in Clontarf, where Sinn Féin won just over 7% of first preferences in 2004. In Crumlin Kimmage, Sinn Féin elected a councillor on the third count, winning 16% of first preferences. Councillor Ray McHugh is running for Sinn Féin this time around.
Full-time councillor, and part-time skiing correspondent Killian Forde topped the poll in Donaghmede and was elected on the first count with 17.15% of first preferences so it will be interesting to see can he repeat the feat this time around.
Dessie Ellis was a poll-topper in Finglas and is aiming for his third consecutive council term this time. He took a massive 29.84% of first preferences while the second Sinn Féin candidate narrowly missed getting elected on the seventh count. Ray Corcoran is the second candidate this time around in the newly-created Finglas Ballymun ward.
Christy Burke, first elected to Dublin City Council in 1985 and seeking a fifth term on the council, also topped the poll in 2004 with 14.78% of first preferences. His running mate took 4.84% of the poll and this time around Ruadhán Mac Aodháin is looking to deliver the last seat and has a substantial and growing profile in the ward.
Sinn Féin took 3.47% of first preferences in Dublin 4’s Pembroke ward in 2004 and Oisin Dolan is the party standard bearer in the expanded Pembroke Rathmines ward.
Daithí Doolan was elected to Dublin’s South East Inner City ward on the fourth count in 2004 with 24.11% of first preferences while in the South West Inner City Sinn Féin took the last of three seats in the ward. Sitting Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, one of the hardest-working local representatives in the South City, is campaigning to hold the seat this time around.
In Fingal, Sinn Féin took 5% of first preferences and its first seat in the Mulhuddart ward. The Mulhuddart count was a marathon in 2004 with the four councillors not elected until the 8th and 9th count. Sinn Féin topped the poll here in 2004 and Councillor Paul Donnelly is the Sinn Féin candidate in 2009.
Fergus Byrne is running in the Balbriggan ward for Sinn Féin and is also running for Balbriggan Town Council. There was no candidate in 2004 so this is new ground for the party. In Castleknock, the party won 4.64% of first preferences and Charlie Maples is the candidate this time.
Colm Ó Murchadha is the Howth Malahide candidate for Sinn Féin where the party had 5.69% of the vote in 2004. In Swords, where the party won just under 6% of the vote in 2004, Conor Kelly is the party candidate.
Sinn Féin’s breakthrough in South Dublin came in 1999 when Seán Crowe and Mark Daly were elected to the council. In 2004, three Sinn Féin councillors were elected in South Dublin.
In Clondalkin, Sinn Féin topped the poll, winning a seat on the first count in this five-seat ward with 2,421 votes and 17.07% of the vote. Matthew McDonagh joins sitting Councillor Shane O’Connor, the 2004 poll-topper, as the party try and win two seats this time. In Lucan, the party won 9.11% of the vote and Robert Ballesty is the current candidate.
Sorcha Nic Cormaic ran for Sinn Féin in the Terenure Rathfarnham ward in 2004 and is running again this time around, seeking to better her 6.44% of first preferences.
Sinn Féin ran two candidates in Tallaght Central in 2004. Mark Daly was second on the first count, with 13.74% of first preferences, while the second party candidate took 6.47% of the vote. Dublin South-West former TD Seán Crowe is now the party councillor for Tallaght Central is the sole candidate in the ward for 2009.
Sinn Féin also ran a two-candidate strategy in Tallaght South where Cathal King ran second on the first count in with 11.74% of the poll while the second Sinn Féin candidate took 9.68% of the poll surviving until the seventh count. King is running again in 2009 with Sinead Cooke as his running mate.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown
This is the only Dublin council where Sinn Féin have no elected councillors so the focus is on the 2009 candidates. In Ballybrack, An Phoblacht columnist and former Belfast City Councillor Eoin Ó Broin will be seeking to break the 7.53% of first preferences won by Sinn Féin in 2004.
In the Dundrum ward, Sinn Féin won 5.63% of the vote in 2004 which Oonagh O’Reilly will have as a target this time around. While Sinn Féin did not run in the Dún Laoghaire ward in 2004, Brian McNally is running in 2009.
Sinn Féin did run in Glencullen, taking 8.76% of the vote in 2004. In 2009, Shaun Tracey will contest the Dublin South by-election and the Glencullen ward.
Seamas Mac Floinn is standing in the Stillorgan Ward.
Sinn Féin’s Paddy Wright held his seat on Athy Town Council in 2004 and is running again in 2009, joined by Seán Downey, who is running for Newbridge Town Council and Kildare County Council.
In Longford Town Council, Sinn Féin made a breakthrough and won a seat as the party took 4% of first preferences across the county. This time around, Brendan Farrell is running for the town and county council in Longford where the party won 5% of first preferences in this ward in 2004.
In Ballymahon, Conor Nolan is running. Sinn Féin took 3.45% of the vote here in 2004 while, in Drumlish, Ciarán Grimes is seeking to beat his 2004 vote share of 3.86%.
Jack Mulvey is the Town Commision candidate in Granard and is also running in the Granard electoral area for Longford County Council.
In 2004, Sinn Féin took 17% of the first preferences on Louth County Council, up 7.32% on 1999, and made major gains across the county. One county councillor became five and three town councillors rose to six.
Sinn Féin topped the poll in the Ardee ward of Louth County Council in 2004 with 15.54% of the vote. 2004’s poll-topping Councillor Pearse McGeough is running again for Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin ran two candidates in the Drogheda East ward in 2004. Sitting Councillor Imelda Munster, who made the breakthrough in 2004, is running again in Drogheda East.
Sinn Féin ran two candidates for Ardee Town Council in 2004, electing one councillor with just under 11% of the poll. Rose Downes is the town council candidate for the party in 2009.
In the Louth County Council ward of Drogheda West Sinn Féin narrowly missed out on the last seat in this four-seater ward even though the party topped the poll with 12.04% of first preferences. Paddy McQuillan is the 2009 Sinn Féin candidate.
Sinn Féin took 24.9% of first preferences in 2004, running three candidates and taking two seats in the Dundalk Carlingford ward. 2004 poll-topper Tomás Sharkey is running in Dundalk South this time around and so Edel Corrigan and Councillor Jim Loughran will run for Sinn Féin in Dundalk Carlingford in 2009. Sinn Féin topped the poll in the Dundalk South County Council ward in 2004 with 15.02%.
Sinn Féin elected a councillor in each of the three Dundalk Town Council wards in 2004. In Dundalk No1 the party took 15.79% of the vote. Ian Dooley is running again here for the party in the renamed Dundalk Central ward.
Briege Elliman is running in the new Dundalk East with sitting Councillor Kevin Meenan. Previously named Dundalk No2, Sinn Féin narrowly missed out on a second seat here in 2004, having won 30.79% of first preferences. Harry Todd is the candidate in Dundalk West where the party won 21.35% of the vote in 2004.
In Drogheda Town Council No1 Borough, Dom Wilton is running again, having being elected in 2004 with 18.26% of the poll. Despite getting 15.5% of first preferences in 2004, Imelda Munster was narrowly beaten for the last seat in Drogheda No2 in 2004 and is running again in 2009. Munster did win a county council seat here in 2004 and is running again in 2009 in Drogheda East.
Mathew Coogan took a new seat for Sinn Féin in Drogheda South in 2004 and in 2009 will be seeking to pass his 11.15% of first preferences marker.
Sinn Féin took 9% of first preferences in Meath County Council as well as new seats in 2004. With significant population movement since 2004 in the commuter belt county, more gains are possible in 2009.
Sinn Féin ran three candidates for Navan Town Council where Joe Reilly made a breakthrough in 1994, winning the party’s first seat here. In 2004, two town councillors were elected with 20.68% of the vote in this nine-seat ward. Sitting Councillors Joe Reilly and Peadar Tobin are running again with Antoinette Rooney as the third candidate.
Tobin and O’Reilly are also running for Meath County Council. O’Reilly won a county council seat in 1999 in the Navan ward. In 2004, O’Reilly and Tobin ran a two-candidate strategy in the county council ward. O’Reilly held his seat and together they won 16% of first preferences; in 2009 they are trying to win the second seat in Navan for Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin won 7.34% of the vote in 2004 in the Slane ward. Sinead Burke runs for the party this time around.
Michael Gallagher topped the poll in Kells in 2004 with 12.45% of the vote winning a second county council seat for Sinn Féin in Meath and will be out to repeat this in 2009.
Sinn Féin’s Conor Ferguson won a first seat on Kells Town Council in 2004, topping the poll with 13.13% of the vote in this nine-seat borough. Ferguson is running again in 2009 with a running mate, Philip Heary, seeking to expand on the 1.31 of a quota won in 2004 with a second seat in 2009.
Sinn Féin won a further new seat in Trim Town Council in 2004 with Caroline Ní Loinsigh coming in on the 12th count. Caroline Lynch is running in 2009 for Kells Town Council and Meath County Council. Ní Loinsigh won 8.42% of first preferences in the Trim ward in 2004.
In Westmeath, Sinn Féin polled 5% of first preferences in 2004 and Paul Hogan made the historic breakthrough of winning a seat on Athlone Town Council. Hogan is running again in 2009 and in the Athlone ward of Westmeath County Council.
In Mullingar, Sinn Féin polled just over 5% of first preferences in 2004. Sorcha Clarke is running for the party on Mullingar Town Council in 2009 and in the Mullingar West ward of the county council.
In the Coole ward, Sinn Féin won 6.85% of the vote in 2004 and Mick Kenny is running for the party here in 2009.