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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 16 December, 2019
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Boil water notices and ex-TDs on the comeback trail: Here's the by-election lowdown on Dublin Mid-West

Candidates are contesting the seat left by Frances Fitzgerald.

90410283_90410283 Labour's Joanna Tuffy is seeking to retake a seat she lost in 2016. Source: RollingNews.ie

AHEAD OF THE four by-elections taking place in two weeks’ time, we’re profiling each of the constituencies. 

Dublin Mid-West

The by-election is being held after the departure of former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald to Brussels after she was elected as an MEP in May.

The constituency itself encompasses some heavily populated parts of Dublin such as Clondalkin and Palmerstown and covers an area as far south as Brittas on the border with Wicklow.

Who’s running?

All the main political parties are running a candidate in order to fill the vacant seat in this four-seat constituency, and there are some interesting independents already as well.

The three sitting TDs in Dublin Mid-West are: Eoin Ó Broin (SF), John Curran (FF) and Gino Kenny (Sol-PBP).

Emer Higgins of Fine Gael is hoping to keep the seat in her party’s hands, having been selected a couple of years ago to run in the general election and topping the poll in the locals in Clondalkin.

Ó Broin topped the poll ahead of Fitzgerald in 2016 general election, with Curran taking the second seat and Kenny pipping Anne-Marie McNally of the Social Democrats for the final seat.

McNally is in the running here again in the by-election.

Hoping to join Ó Broin in the Dáil for Sinn Féin is councillor Mark Ward, a former mayor of south Dublin who topped the poll in the recent local elections in the Palmerstown – Fonthill ward.

Interestingly, there are two former TDs hoping to return to the Dáil – in the form of Joanna Tuffy of Labour and independent Paul Gogarty

Tuffy is a two-term TD in a constituency that elected two from Labour in 2011. It’s therefore an area where the party should be targeting some recovery, but with a host of left-leaning candidates it’s also very competitive.

Gogarty is a former Green TD who is perhaps most infamously known for a colourful Dáil outburst and who latterly flirted with a music career before being elected as councillor and also becoming mayor of south Dublin

No longer with the Green Party, Gogarty still touts his environmental credentials, calling himself ‘a green-minded councillor’ on his Twitter and also having a go at his former party

The actual Green Party candidate in the area is councillor Peter Kavanagh, a candidate with a strong online presence and a focus on Irish language rights as well as environmentalism. 

Fianna Fail councillor Shane Moynihan is in the running as well with Kelly Sweeney of Solidarity-PBP looking to give the party a second seat in the constituency. 

The other candidates also standing are: Francis Timmons (Ind), David Gardiner (Workers’ Party), Ruth Nolan (Independents 4 Change).

5870 Green New Deal Document_90584840 Kellie Sweeney of People Before Profit. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

What are the main issues?

Despite the latest boil water notice being lifted on Tuesday, the ongoing problems with the water supply are a huge issue.

The Leixlip Water Treatment Plant at the centre of the two recent boil water notices is located inside the Dublin Mid-West constituency, as are some of the affected areas.

Candidates and other local politicians have been publicly seeking updates from Irish Water and the other stakeholders on the status of the boil water notices and campaigning on the issue.  

Sinn Féin’s Ward told local newspaper The Echo last week that residents are “confused and angry” about the notices. 

Housing and the price of rent are huge issues in the area, with local politicians saying that people are facing either notices to quit or rent increases.

Fianna Fáil’s Moynihan has also said that flooding in parts of Palmerstown have been raised with him while the Social Democrats’ McNally recently told TheJournal.ie that the large number of families in the area also brings some specific issues like a lack of autism supports and childcare.

The staple questions about access to healthcare and education are also of course big issues on the doorsteps.

Anything of note happened on the trail so far?

After the problems being faced by Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee in Dublin Fingal for past tweets about Travellers, Emer Higgins has also apologised for comments she made about a Traveller housing scheme in her area in 2014. 

Higgins made the apology in an article in the Irish Examiner after the paper reported that she previously declared in a letter to residents that the scrapping of the housing scheme was a “victory for the community”.

On the plus side for Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted a video of the pair of them in a local café last week.

Varadkar said that electing Higgins would mean she’d have a “a hotline to ministers” and he also made the rather surprising claim that it would help the government on Brexit. 

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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