Dun Laoghaire turns blue as FG win the day

by Emma Nolan

THE Gazette joined the candidates in the Dun Laoghaire constituency count centre in Loughlinstown last Saturday for a day that saw three of the available seats go to two Fine Gael candidates, and one People Before Profit candidate. The fourth seat went to the current Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett (FG).
Early in the day, the common feeling at the count was that Dun Laoghaire had bucked the national trend – the resurgence of Fianna Fail – with Fine Gael topping the polls early on with sitting TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Cllr Maria Bailey.
Upon her arrival, Deputy Mitchell O’Connor thanked her and Cllr Bailey’s supporters, and said: “I’d really like to thank the people of Blackrock and Foxrock who voted en masse. There was fantastic vote management; we worked as a team and we bucked the trend here, so we’re delighted.”
Speaking to The Gazette, she said: “We knew we had a lot of support in the constituency, and Maria and I worked well as a team.”
On the constituency returning two female TDs she said: “The last time I was here five years ago, I gave a commitment that I would do everything for women.”
Speaking to The Gazette on her success, Cllr Bailey said: “I’m very overwhelmed; there’s a huge amount of support that worked with me for a long time.
“This was a real team effort between Cllrs Marie Baker and John Bailey and myself; we have worked towards this for the last 12 years. This is about hard work on the ground and being in touch with the people, being familiar and understanding what the reality is for people [during] the last couple of years.”
In a polarised result, the people of Dun Laoghaire voted for both ends of the political spectrum, which perhaps accurately reflects the divide on the ground in what is largely an affluent part of the county, with a big working class population.
The electorate was 92,248 people, and the total poll saw 59,639 votes cast. There were 401 spoiled votes, so the total valid poll was 59,238 votes, with a total of 1,093 votes non-transferable after count seven.
Labour’s presence in Dun Laoghaire was completely crushed as the Left-leaning voters chose a new left-wing party to represent them.
Former Labour TD and party leader Eamon Gilmore did not contest for a seat this time around, with a defeated Cllr Carrie Smyth eliminated after the sixth count, as her transfers brought Mitchell O’Connor and Bailey over their quotas.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit) was a front runner all along, topping the polls and gaining the first seat after the sixth count. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor and Cllr Bailey were deemed elected on the seventh and final count.
Speaking to The Gazette early on in the day before he had been declared elected, but was topping the polls, Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “It would appear that I am going to be re-elected and that Labour have collapsed significantly, and that People Before Profit essentially have taken up the Left vote.
“I’d like to think that we have taken that vote because we have more consistently campaigned on the issues that affect less well-off people, and people who haven’t benefitted from the so-called recovery.”
Fine Gael’s return of two female TDs coincides with the implementation of the gender quota directive ahead of this general election. The party have been commended by various opposing candidates for their vote management, with 36% split evenly between them.
Fianna Fail had been expected to gain a seat, but both candidates failed to meet the mark. Cllrs Mary Hanafin and Cormac Devlin were criticised for their inter-party rivalry, as Hanafin joined the race against the party’s wishes and lost out, having received just 6,478 first-preference votes.
The Green Party’s Cllr Ossian Smyth was eliminated in the fourth count, but has substantially increased the party’s presence in the constituency since Ciaran Cuff ran there in 2011.
Cllr Shane O’Brien on the Sinn Fein ticket was eliminated after the second count, receiving just 5.3% of first-preference votes.
Renua’s Frank Cronin and Direct Democracy Ireland’s Raymond Whitehead were excluded after the first count.

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