GE2020: Cork South-Central could return same four TDs to Dáil

GE2020: Cork South-Central could return same four TDs to Dáil
n Tanaiste and minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney. and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Cork voters will go to the polls on Saturday. David Linnane analyses the North-Central and where the seats could be potentially won and lost in the upcoming general election.

WHERE the northside is the most volatile constituency in the country, the southside might be one of the most stable in this election.

Over the last four years, all four Cork South-Central TDs elected in 2016 have seen their stars rise on the national political scene.

Though Simon Coveney lost the 2017 Fine Gael leadership election to Leo Varadkar, the experience and its aftermath saw him evolve into one of the most prominent figures in his party, serving as Tánaiste and being thrust into the complicated Brexit negotiations as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is now closer to the Taoiseach’s office then ever, with a steady performance over the last four years allowing him to slip his party ahead of Fine Gael in recent polls.

Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath during proposals by Fianna Fail outlining the Party’s proposals to tackle high insurance costs at FF Election Headquarters,Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath during proposals by Fianna Fail outlining the Party’s proposals to tackle high insurance costs at FF Election Headquarters,Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil’s recovery was also driven by poll-topper Michael McGrath, who’s performance as finance spokesperson has helped calm many people’s nerves about letting Fianna Fáil control the economy again after the disastrous Ahern-Cowen era.

Sinn Féin candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire speaking at the Cork Chamber General Election Debate in the Clayton Hotel, Cork.Pic Darragh Kane
Sinn Féin candidate Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire speaking at the Cork Chamber General Election Debate in the Clayton Hotel, Cork.Pic Darragh Kane

Then there’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, a first-term Sinn Féin TD who has been an asset to his party in the Dáil and a prospect that they have nourished, giving him key spokesperson positions in justice and education.

Without doubt, Mr Coveney, Mr Martin, and Mr McGrath will be reelected, and the recent Sinn Féin surge should quell a lot of doubts about Mr Ó Laoghaire after the difficult local elections last year.

That final seat hasn’t been won yet, however.

Where Cork North-Central has an abundance of viable candidates, pickings are a lot slimmer in Cork South-Central but Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer and the Green Party’s Lorna Bogue are both quite competitive.

Things haven’t worked out in an ideal way for Mr Buttimer. His Bishopstown base was kept in the northside, and a decline for Fine Gael and surge for Sinn Féin will cause him trouble.

Keeping a strict vote-sharing strategy with Mr Coveney may also be tough if the Tánaiste’s new prominence sees the Fine Gael vote gravitate before him.

But this is still a largely middle-class constituency with plenty of space for Fine Gael, and it will be hard for anybody to out canvass the tireless Mr Buttimer.

But that middle-class could be a threat to Fine Gael too if the Greens continue to pick urban and suburban voters away from the party of government as they did last year.

Green Party candidate Cllr. Lorna Bogue with party leader Eamon Ryan TD on the top of Shandon for the launch of the General Election campaign in Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Green Party candidate Cllr. Lorna Bogue with party leader Eamon Ryan TD on the top of Shandon for the launch of the General Election campaign in Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Ms Bogue was a credible candidate anyway, having polled over 2,000 first preferences on her first outing in 2016, but the 'green wave' saw her party take three city council seats last year with 5,000 or so votes across the boxes within the Cork South-Central boundary.

Though Mr Ó Laoghaire is well-placed to keep his seat, there’s a lot of forces at play here and it’s still too soon to say if the same team will be returned as last time out.

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