#GE16 Dublin Bay North: Survival of the fittest in a twenty candidate scramble

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 22.50.58Dublin Bay North

Current TDs

Dublin North Central

Minister for State, Aodhán Ó Riordán (Labour), Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton (Fine Gael), Finian McGrath (Independent)

Dublin North East

Seán Kenny (Labour), Terence Flanagan (Elected as Fine Gael but now Renua Ireland), Tommy Broughan (Elected as Labour but now Independent for Change)

The constituency review amalgamated the old Dublin North East and Dublin North Central three seat constituencies to create a new 5 seat constituency. About 9,500 people were taken out of the northern end of the constituency around Portmarnock and moved into Dublin Fingal.

Total seats in 2016 General Election: 5   

Main Areas:

Marino, Clontarf, Artane, Raheny, Kilbarrack, Coolock, Donaghamede, Baldoyle, Howth, Sutton.


  • Tommy Broughan TD, Independent (Howth)
  • Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, Fine Gael (Griffith Avenue)
  • Paul Clarke, Independent (Artane)
  • Donna Cooney, Green Party (Clontarf)
  • Terence Flanagan TD, Renua (Old Malahide Road)
  • Cllr. Jimmy Guerin, Independent (Howth)
  • Cllr. Sean Haughey, Fianna Fáil (Artane)
  • Cllr. Deirdre Heney, Fianna Fáil (Killester)
  • Cllr. John Lyons, People Before Profit Alliance (Santry)
  • Cllr. Micheal MacDonncha, Sinn Féin (Kilbarrack)
  • Finian McGrath TD, Independent Alliance (Marino)
  • Cllr. Denise Mitchell, Sinn Féin (Ayrfield)
  • Cllr. Michael O’Brien, Anti Austerity Alliance (Malahide)
  • Cllr. Cian O’Callaghan, Social Democrats (Howth)
  • Prionsias Ó Conráin, Independent (Raheny)
  • Damien O’Neill, Independent (Blunden Drive)
  • Cllr. Naoise O Muiri, Fine Gael (Calderwood Avenue)
  • Minister for State, Aodhán Ó Riordán TD, Labour (Marino)
  • Senator Averil Power, Independent, (Sutton)
  • Stephanie Regan, Fine Gael (Raheny)

Dublin Bay North is a new constituency which defies any coherent political analysis. Over half of the twenty declared candidates have at least an outside chance of winning a seat here.

The only nailed on certainty for a seat is Fine Gael’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton who will maintain his strong personal vote in the old Dublin North Central constituency and will undoubtedly pick up a lot of votes from committed Fine Gael voters in Howth and other areas formerly in Dublin North East.

Fine Gael should secure in excess of a quota in this constituency and their second candidate Cllr. Naoise O Muiri will also poll solidly. However with such a glut of high-profile candidates, prospects of a second seat for Fine Gael are remote.

Labour won 3 seats between the two 3 seat constituencies in 2011. Since then Tommy Broughan was expelled from the party and Seán Kenny has announced his retirement, leaving Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordán as the party’s only candidate. Even if Labour unites behind one candidate, it is far from guaranteed one seat. 

A disastrous local election in 2014 across the constituency had the party polling behind Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the AAA-PBP and Sinn Féin across the electoral areas in the constituency.

While Minister Ó Riordán has been a solid performer as a Minister and on television, he is just coming to the end of his first term in the Dáil and may not have consolidated a solid personal vote to buffer him against the tide flowing out on the Labour vote. 

Ó Riordán will hope that the loyalty of the traditional Labour voters in the constituency will be enough for him to get into the frame and he may benefit from the elimination of the Fine Gael candidates and perhaps other moderate left wing candidates in the later counts.

This part of Dublin has traditionally been a stronghold of Fianna Fáil. As recently as 10 years ago they held 4 out of 6 seats in the region. The local elections here were relatively good to that party with evidence that supporters were slowly beginning to return to the fold.

A one candidate strategy in this constituency with a well-known candidate would undoubtedly have left the party in a very strong position to regain a seat. But somewhat inexplicably the party members selected Cllr. Deirdre Heney at its convention despite evidence that former TD, Cllr Sean Haughey retained greater recognition amongst the electorate and would have a better chance of winning the seat.

Haughey was added to the ticket post-convention and so there must be some nervousness within Fianna Fáil that splitting the vote in this manner may leave them vulnerable in a highly competitive constituency.

To add to the woes of Fianna Fáil, Senator Averil Power, one of the party’s most high profile representatives in Dublin left the party in May 2015 citing frustration with Fianna Fáil’s “lack of vision, courage and leadership” as well as its “cynical and cowardly approach” to the marriage equality referendum. Power is now running as an independent candidate.

She has been building a base in the constituency for the past 5 years as well as cultivating a strong media presence. Her candidature will undoubtedly affect the Fianna Fáil vote. Power will perform strongly but in a constituency with a number of well-established independents she will struggle to differentiate herself from the others and get herself into the frame for an actual seat.

Facing similar challenges to Senator Power is Cllr. Cian O’Callaghan of the Social Democrats, who is a former Labour councillor. If the new party is to have a long-term future it will need to elect an additional TD somewhere to support its 3 founding co-leaders. O’Callaghan was a strong vote-getter in Howth in 2014.

He is also an able media performer but has not had the same opportunities as Power to cultivate better presence across the constituency. The Social Democrats have a paucity of credible candidates. It is unfortunate for them that one of their strongest candidates is situated in such a hard fought constituency.

Another major obstacle for O’Callaghan is that he has to share his Howth base with the well-established Tommy Broughan. 

Sinn Féin is also pursuing a two candidate strategy in the hope that maximising the solid vote the party enjoys in the constituency should result in a seat. Both Denise Mitchell and Micheál MacDonncha are relatively new to contesting elections and are somewhat less polished and smooth than many of the new generation of candidate that Sinn Féin is wont to produce.

If the recent local elections are an indicator of form then there should be enough support to get one of these candidates over the line without too much reliance on transfers from other candidates. In  a hotly contested constituency this strategy has some risk especially as many soft Sinn Féin voters have the options of supporting some well  know independents with similar ideologies. 

If Sinn Féin starts to have a bad campaign then this seat will be at risk.

There are two incumbent independent candidates. Tommy Broughan has been in and out of the Labour party a number of times over a 23 year Dáil career. He was expelled from Labour having voted against the government on a number of occasions, notably refusing to back the renewal of the banking guarantee.

He is now running as part of Mick Wallace’s ‘Independents for Change’ platform. He has a strong personal vote in the eastern part of the constituency and has been a high vote getter in the past. Broughan should also benefit from transfers from the hard left and is looking well placed to serve in Leinster House into his 70s.

The other independent to the left of the political spectrum is Finian McGrath who has earned a reputation as both a solid constituency operator and an able legislator. He is a high profile member of Shane Ross’s Independent Alliance. McGrath has struggled to gain a high first preference vote in the past but has always been very transfer friendly.

In such a crowded field McGrath’s ability to attract votes from all-sides may keep him afloat to take the final seat from Labour.

The final incumbent TD seeking re-election is Terence Flanagan of Renua Ireland. Flanagan is another of those Fine Gael TDs who left having refused to endorse the protection of human life during pregnancy. Neither Renua nor Flanagan have had an easy time in the past year.

While there is a solid conservative vote across the older, well heeled and more established parts of the constituency, Flanagan is another who will ultimately struggle to get into contention late on count day.   

Watch out for:  A nail-biting count with many candidates bunched within a few hundred votes of each other.

Our prediction: Bruton (Fine Gael), Broughan (Independents for Change), MacDonnacha (Sinn Féin)  Haughey (Fianna Fáil) and McGrath (Independent Alliance)

You can find our previous constituency profiles here.

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