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How many of these TDs can hold their seats?

Banking inquiry members have faced a heavy workload this year, but has it damaged their chances of re-election?

WHEN THE BANKING inquiry was set up over a year ago many of its members privately expressed concern that the workload could harm their prospects come election time.

Trying to decipher the events leading up to the collapse of the Irish banking system is no small job. Since December of last year, the inquiry has heard from 128 witnesses in 49 days of public hearings, which finally concluded this week.

On top of this, the committee has also held hours and hours of private meetings deep in the bowels of Leinster House. The committee now has to work on a final report into the banking crisis, which is now due for publication in late January.

With six of the seven deputies on the inquiry all hoping to be part of the next Dáil, what toll has this heavy workload taken on their electoral chances in each of their constituencies?

Here’s a quick run down… 

Ciaran Lynch – Labour – Cork South Central 

8/7/2015 Banking Inquiries Source: Leah Farrell

The committee chair was already facing an uphill battle to retain his seat in the constituency of death. Cork South-Central has gone from five seats to four and includes Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and Michael McGrath (who’s also on the inquiry), as well as Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney and Jerry Buttimer.

Lynch has sought to maintain his profile throughout the inquiry, being its public face in media appearances. His chairmanship has done his chances no harm but they were already remote due to the changes in the constituency and Labour’s fortunes nationally. Of all the inquiry members he is the most at risk of losing his seat.

Pearse Doherty – Sinn Féin – Donegal 

10/6/2015. Dail Scenes Source: Sam Boal

One of the inquiry’s best performers, Doherty should have no problem being re-elected primarily because he is based in a Sinn Féin stronghold. Donegal could return two and maybe even three TDs at the general election, including the party’s justice spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn.

It hasn’t harmed Doherty that he has managed to combine his banking inquiry work with taking a prominent role in some of the big stories of recent months like the IBRC loan controversies.

Michael McGrath – Fianna Fáil – Cork South Central 

File Photo: Michael McGrath, FF spokesman on Finance has said it would be arrogant of his party not to consider going into government as a junior party. Source: Mark Stedman

Another of the inquiry’s best performers, the party’s finance spokesperson is tipped as a future leader of his party. McGrath has maintained a high public profile throughout the inquiry, leading Fianna Fáil’s charge for greater relief for struggling mortgage holders.

Despite battling it out with the committee chair and others in the constituency of death, it would be a bad day for Fianna Fáil is he isn’t returned along with party leader Micheál Martin.

Eoghan Murphy – Fine Gael – Dublin Bay South 

16/9/2013 Fine Gael Think Ins Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

The first-time TD is in one of the most Fine Gael constituencies in the country having been elected along with Lucinda Creighton in 2011. She has since quit the party and is tipped for re-election under the Renua banner.

But Murphy should join her in the next Dáil provided he doesn’t fall behind the candidate Fine Gael has picked to oust Creighton, councillor Kate O’Connell. He has not been the inquiry’s star performer, but Murphy has brought a level of detail and knowledge to questioning that others lacked.

Kieran O’Donnell – Fine Gael – Limerick City 

31/3/2012. Fine Gael Ard Fheis Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

O’Donnell shares a constituency with Finance Minister Michael Noonan and both are running for re-election next time out. Noonan has a strong support base in the city and his party colleague will hope to capitalise on his transfers.

O’Donnell is a hard worker on the inquiry, and before that on the Public Accounts Committee. Depending on the mood of voters, he will either return to the Dáil on a wave of pro-government sentiment or lose out to the insurgent left of Sinn Féin and the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

John Paul Phelan – Fine Gael – Carlow-Kilkenny 

8/6/2009 Elections Results

Phelan was one of three Fine Gael TDs elected in the vast  five-seat constituency in 2011. With Phil Hogan gone to Brussels he could stand to benefit from being the only Fine Gael incumbent in the Kilkenny part of the constituency.

But councillor David Fitzgerald put in a strong performance in the recent by-election and has likely knocked on more doors recently, purely because of Phelan’s inquiry commitments. The qualified barrister has been a strong performer during the committee’s public sessions, often following up well with witnesses when colleagues failed to get answers.

Joe Higgins – Socialist Party – Dublin West 

17/7/2015 Anti Water Charges Campaigns Source: Leah Farrell

The Socialist Party veteran is retiring from politics at the end of this Dáil.

Read: One simple thing could make the entire banking inquiry null and void

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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