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17 May 2007 Edition

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General election 2007 : Dublin is key area for election

With 47 seats to be decided, Dublin is a key region in the general election. For Sinn Féin to develop as a potent electoral presence in the 26 Counties, success in Dublin is a priority. Take the 2002 election, Fianna Fáil won 21 of the Dublin seats, a net gain of two, the Progressive Democrats went from two to four, Sinn Féin won two new seats, the Greens went from two seats to five while a new independent Finian McGrath won a seat in Dublin North Central. Fine Gael on the other hand lost nine seats and any chance of returning to government. This time around the contest for Dublin seats is as heavy as ever and ROBBIE SMYTH profiles the Sinn Féin record and prospects in Dublin and the Kildare commuter belt.



           vote    % of poll
1997    2,377    6.65
2002    4,972    14.61

This was the one that got away for Sinn Féin in 2002, as Fianna Fáil’s Dermot Fitzpatrick took the seat on the narrowest of margins – only 79 votes, from Sinn Féin's Nicky Kehoe who ran third on the first count.
Sinn Féin’s candidate in 2007 is Dublin MEP and Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald, one of the most high profile Sinn Féin candidates in this election. Mary Lou believes that dealing with the acute pockets of disadvantage as well housing and childcare are some of the key issues in the constituency.







           vote    % of poll
2002    1,855    6.52

In 2002 this was an entirely new constituency created by the Boundary Commission as a flawed method of dealing with twin factors of a rapidly growing population in Dublin as well as massive shifts into the newly built suburbs along the M50. Rather than expand Dublin West and South West into six seat constituencies, this three-seat stop gap was created. Now, five years later it is a four seat constituency which has had to live most with the impact of planning corruption and the transport chaos resulting daily on the Westlink.
As home to Health minister Mary Harney, she could well feel the anti-government backlash, not to mention the small question of a health service crisis.
The local Sinn Féin vote is set to show substantial growth. With four seats up for grabs Sinn Féin is definitely in the running. Joanne Spain is the Sinn Féin candidate, and has been a Sinn Féin activist for several years working in both An Phoblacht and the Sinn Féin press office.
Joanne believes that healthcare and housing are the big issues across the 31,000 households of Dublin Mid-West that takes in Clondalkin, Lucan, Palmerstown, Saggart, Newcastle and Rathcoole, many of whom are struggling with mortgages and a complete lack of the necessary local infrastructure and services.



          vote    % of poll
2002    1,350    3.07

This was one of two constituencies that used electronic voting on a trial basis in 2002, and yielded, within an hour of the polls closing, the first snapshot of the devastation of the Fine Gael vote that was to come in the following day’s counts as former Justice minister Nora Owen lost her seat and Labour won back a seat lost in 1997.
Matt McCormack is the Sinn Féin candidate here. Matt currently works as a mechanic in S.R Techniques having previously worked for Team Aer Lingus before they were privatised. He is active in a broad range of local projects including lobbying for improved bus and Metro services, housing, playgrounds and a range of community facilities. Matt was also active in the Save Air Lingus from Privatisation campaign.





          vote    % of poll
2002    2,299    5.74

This used to be one of the most volatile Northside constituencies. In 1997 Labour held onto a seat here having only won 6.6% of first preferences in a four-seat constituency. In 2002 Derek McDowell won 10.49% of first preferences and lost his seat. Fianna Fáil’s attempts to win three seats were usurped by the exceptionally strong performance of independent candidate Finian McGrath who took the last seat.
Boundary changes have now made this a three seater and Peter Lawlor is the Sinn Féin candidate. Peter ran in the 2004 local elections for Sinn Féin where he polled well. He has lived most of his life in the Marino area and is a self employed Communications Engineer.
Peter has been very committed and extremely active on many issues important to people in the community, including anti-racism, crime, the negative impact of drugs, bin charges, the housing crisis and traffic congestion.





          vote    % of poll
1997    2,212    5.93
2002    3,003    10.24

Dublin North East is another of the Dublin constituencies that since 2002 has been sliced into a three seater when Fine Gael lost a seat as Fianna Fáil won two and Labour held their seat.
None of this has held back the growth of Sinn Féin in the area and particularly the popularity of Dublin City Councillor Larry O’Toole. Larry was elected to Dublin City Council in 1999 and in 2002 was re-elected for the Artane ward while Killian Forde was also elected onto the council for Donaghmede, the other ward that makes up the North East constituency.
Larry’s vote was all the more impressive as his 4,497 first preferences in Artane were, at 33% of the votes polled, the second highest council ward vote share in the 26 Counties.
Sinn Féin will be mounting a strong challenge in this constituency. Larry has always been an outspoken advocate of the marginalised in Dublin North East and elsewhere. His work has seen him challenge the establishment parties on their record on housing, healthcare provision, employment, workers’ rights, transport and other issues. His tireless work in speaking out against the scourge of drugs in working class communities in the face of government indifference is well recognised and respected even by his political opponents.



          vote    % of poll
2002    4,781    18.28

Sinn Féin didn’t run in this constituency when it was a four-seater in 1997. In 2002 as a three-seater Dublin City Councillor Dessie Ellis almost took the last seat. Ellis, who won a council seat in 1999 for Finglas, was returned again in 2002, and like Dublin North East, also has another Sinn Féin councillor in the constituency, Ray Corcoran in Ballymun. A Leinster House seat for Sinn Féin is entirely possible in 2007.
Dessie has been actively involved in the community’s fight against “joy-riding” and drug pushing and works closely with local residents’ committees. He is active  on issues such as housing, rents, social welfare and pensions and is campaigning for real investment for the area in public transport and better local roads. He has supported the regeneration of Finglas and Ballymun.






          vote    % of poll
1997    1,937    4.77
2002    5,591    12.7

A near trebling of the Sinn Féin vote in 2002 won this seat for Aengus Ó Snodaigh, who was only topped for first preferences by Fianna Fáil’s Sean Ardagh. In 2004 Sinn Féin built further on their 2002 performance with the election of three Sinn Féin councillors in the area – Robbie Sargent in Crumlin, Tony Smithers in Ballyfermot and Andrew O’Connell in Dublin South West, increasing further on the 2002 vote share.
Aengus is party whip in Leinster House and spokesperson on Justice and Equality and International Affairs. He is also the party’s representative to the National Forum on Europe and is a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle and of the party’s negotiations team.
An energetic Sinn Féin and community campaigner Aengus is the author of Sinn Féin’s document on drugs Empowering Communities. He has also written for several magazines and newspapers.
Aengus has a long history of community involvement, from the rallies against Dublin Corporation’s “municipal vandalism” at the historic Wood Quay site to the anti-drugs protests throughout the 1980s and today.




          vote    % of poll
2002    2,398    7.39

One of the more diverse constituencies in the state, Sinn Féin’s Daithí Doolan recorded an impressive performance here in 2007 in a highly competitive election that saw Fine Gael lose a seat in what was once former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald’s heartland. Now with Fianna Fáil’s Eoin Ryan standing down and the ever controversial PD leader Michael McDowell having a history of winning a seat here only to lose it again next time around leaves this constituency wide open.
Sinn Féin’s Daithí Doolan is the candidate again and in 2004 he won a seat on Dublin City Council in this constituency. He has been a political activist for most of his adult life and has proven his ability to deliver at a national, regional and local level.
In his own constituency he has been to the fore in campaigning against bin charges, incinerators, hospital closures, unsuitable high rise developments. Since the 1990s Daithí has tackled both the causes and consequences of drug addiction in our communities.




          vote    % of poll
1997    3,725    8.9
2002    7,466    20.29

Dublin South West was the close run thing for Sinn Féin in 1997 as Seán Crowe held on until the second last count. His elimination and distribution of transfers elected four out of the other five TDs including the PDs Mary Harney who has moved to Dublin Mid West. Crowe’s performance showed the growth of Sinn Féin in that period, exploding the myth that the party would never get transfers.
As the constituency size was cut to four seats for the 2002 election, some media pundits claimed that the Sinn Féin challenge was over despite the fact that Seán was elected as a councillor in 1999 in Tallaght, along with Mark Daly. But in 2002 he topped the poll and was elected on the first count.
Seán is the party’s spokesperson on Science and Education and Community Affairs and has been to the fore in fighting for proper resources for Tallaght Hospital and a safe and reliable transport system for the city. He is also involved in working for affordable housing and social housing programmes, combating social exclusion, equal access to education for all, tackling the continuing drugs crisis, and addressing youth alienation.




          vote    % of poll
2002    2,172    3.93


Another volatile constituency, in 1992 Labour elected its first TD here with two quotas only to lose the seat in 1997. In 2002 Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter lost out while the Greens regained a seat first won in 1989.
Sinn Féin is running two candidates here as the party builds on a promising performance in the 2004 local elections. They are Sorcha Nic Cormaic and Shaun Tracey.
Sorcha grew up and continues to live in Dundrum. A primary school teacher, she works as a resource teacher for Traveller children in Holy Cross National School in Dundrum and in St. Olafs National School in Balally.
Sorcha previously stood for Sinn Féin in the local elections in 2004 receiving an impressive 1,876 first preference votes in the Terenure/Rathfarnam ward of South Dublin, narrowly missing the seat.
Shaun Tracey grew up in Ballyogan in South Dublin and currently lives in Stepaside. A plumber by trade, Shaun left the building sites in October 2004 to work full time for Sinn Féin. He currently works in the Leinster House Press Office and is editor of Dublin News, the quarterly newspaper of Sinn Féin Átha Cliath.
Shaun is acutely aware of the many social problems caused by years of neglect in the area, and particularly the disgraceful housing crisis in Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown which has the worst record in the whole state for the provision of social housing, and of the difficulties young people face in moving onto the property ladder.



          vote    % of poll
1997    2,004    5.0
2002    2,404    8.02

This is the last of the Dublin constituencies to go through a prolonged period of change, beginning in 1981 when the Dublin Finglas and Dublin West County constituencies were merged into a five seater, then cut to a four seater and in 2002 split into a three seat constituency, which produced the result of one Fianna Fáil, one Socialist Party and one Labour TD.
Sinn Féin strength has been growing in the constituency and in 2004 the party elected its first councillor to Fingal County council.
Councillor Felix Gallagher is the Sinn Féin candidate in 2007. Felix currently works as a Community Development worker in Blanchardstown and is engaged in a broad range of local projects which include providing improved bus and rail services, a Policing Forum, playgrounds and a range of community facilities.
Felix works with local people on issues such as housing, health, anti-social behaviour and improving general living conditions for the people of West Dublin. With young children of his own Felix has a real understanding of the issues confronting young people attempting to raise families today.



          vote    % of poll
2002    2,159    4.03

Sinn Féin has never quite managed a breakthrough in this constituency, but after a good showing in the 2004 local elections the party is set to make a bigger impact this time around.
Eoin Ó Broin, a native of Cabinteely and Blackrock is the Sinn Féin candidate. Eoin has worked full time for Sinn Féin for eleven years. From 1997 to 1999 he was the National Organiser for Ógra Shinn Féin. From 2001 to 2004 he represented the Old Park electoral district on Belfast City Council. Since 2004 Eoin has co-ordinated Sinn Féin’s team in the European Parliament.
Eoin is also a published author. His first book, Matxinada – Basque Nationalism and Radical Basque Youth Movements was published in English in 2004 and in Spanish in 2005. His second book, Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism will be published later this year.





Kildare North

Sinn Féin has never contested this Leinster House constituency, but in 2004, Cristín McCauley polled well for the party in the Naas County Council ward. Originally from Lurgan County Armagh, Cristín, her husband Martin and their three children Roísín, Orlagh and Pádraig, were forced to move to Kildare after a loyalist bomb attack on their home in 1998.
A trained youth worker, Cristín spent the previous seven years working in the local youth and community centre heading programs such as self awareness’, young women’s groups’ and after school clubs.





Sinn Fein’s 26-County record 1997 to 2006

The Sinn Féin vote has been growing throughout Ireland and with candidates in 40 constituencies in the 26 Counties the party vote is set to register its highest Leinster House showing yet. The figures for that decade of growth are listed below.
1997 (Leinster House)...2.5%
1999 (local council)...3.5%
1999 (EU parliament)...6.3%
2002 (Leinster House)...6.51%
2004 (local council)...8%
2004 (EU parliament)...11.1%

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