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Here are the Dublin Bay South by-election candidates battling it out to replace Eoghan Murphy

The housing crisis is top of the agenda for most of the candidates ahead of next month’s by-election.

THE DATE FOR a by-election in ‘Ireland’s most affluent constituency’ has been set, with polls to open on 8 July.

A Dublin Bay South by-election was called after former Fine Gael minister Eoghan Murphy resigned his Dáil seat at the end of April. 

The four-seater constituency already has TDs from Fianna Fáil (Jim O’Callaghan), the Green Party (Eamon Ryan) and Sinn Féin (Chris Andrews). 

With the date now set, let’s take a look at the candidates preparing to battle it out over the coming weeks.

Fine Gael

James Geoghegan Dublin Bay Sth Bye election Tanaiste and Frances Fitzgerald-3 James Geoghegan with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last month. Source: Naoise Culhane

As with any by-election, there is always pressure on candidates in government parties to perform well.

Councillor James Geoghegan was confirmed last month as Fine Gael’s candidate.

The barrister has said he wants to be a “voice for the generation” of people who are “locked out of the housing market”. 

“I want to be a voice for that generation in delivering the supply of new homes,” he said at the virtual launch of his campaign. 

He said he wants to focus on affordable housing and “smart investment” in childcare, education and work as the country reopens. 

He has also focused on the idea of a ’15-minute city’ in Dublin where local schools, businesses and community services should be within a 15 minute walk or cycle from your home.

With two parents and two grandparents as Supreme Court judges, Geoghegan said he believes voters “don’t look at the opportunities a candidate has had in life, but look at how they use those opportunities”.

Geoghegan said that he and his wife have a mortgage and “were lucky enough to get a deposit together” but that he realises “there is a huge generational problem for people getting access to home ownership”.

“Clearly this is in my opinion the crisis of the next decade, how we are going to ensure that everyone has access to home ownership,” he said. 

In a clear deviation from exited TD Eoghan Murphy, Geoghegan said that he “is not a fan of co-living”. 

“I don’t think it’s suitable for my generation or younger,” he said. 

There was some controversy over the party’s selection process, after former Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell claimed that her path to the nomination was effectively blocked.

Geoghegan said that “Kate decided not to run” and it was “her decision” but he believes he has the support of “all the members” in the constituency.

Fianna Fáil

Seanad Count H Deirdre Conroy pictured at the Seanad vote count in Dublin Castle last year. Source: Maxwells Dublin

Councillor Deirdre Conroy is Fianna Fáil’s by-election candidate in Dublin Bay South. 

Her priorities are centred around housing, crime and transport and she said there’s “no doubt that housing is the issue of this generation”. 

“Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Fianna Fáil are committed to introducing real, meaningful, and lasting policy to ensure that home ownership can be supported and achieved, rents are affordable, tenants can live securely in cost rental homes helping those experiencing homelessness into a permanent home, reducing the numbers on our social housing waiting lists,” Conroy said.

She said she will advocate for “more Gardaí on the streets”, community policing and funding to community groups to “divert young people from the path of crime”. 

In terms of transport, the candidate said there needs to be rail infrastructure leading to the south west of the city. 

“MetroLink should be extended from St Stephens Green towards the southwest of the city serving areas such as Rathgar, Terenure and Templeogue,” she said.  

Conroy said if elected, she would “strongly promote the feasibility study” into extending the MetroLink south west. 

Conroy worked in architectural conservation for more than 20 years. 

She was criticised earlier this month after reports of past comments made on a blog about a previous tenant lodging in her home and cooking dinner in the kitchen.  

Green Party

4793 Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne pictured in 2018. Source: Rollingnews.ie

Councillor Claire Byrne will contest the by-election for the Green Party after being chosen over Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu.

In a statement, Byrne said she would put a “strong focus on climate, communities and equality” if elected.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to set our country on a greener path that will benefit our communities, families and children and to achieve many of the goals we’ve been working towards for the past 40 years,” Byrne said.

“We’ve already seen what the Green Party in Government can achieve I look forward to having the opportunity to work with our colleagues to accomplish not only the Green commitments in the Programme for Government, but the principles that our Party was founded on.

“These principles are the very reason I am involved in politics: planning for the long-term, protecting our island’s natural beauty, and safeguarding our planet for future generations.”

Byrne has sat on Dublin City Council as a Green Party Councillor for the South East Inner City since 2014.

Party leader Eamon Ryan was elected in Dublin Bay South on the first count in the 2020 general election with 22.4% of votes. 

Sinn Féin 

Politics 003 Lynn Boylan pictured outside Leinster House earlier this year. Source: Sasko Lazarov

Senator Lynn Boylan was confirmed as the Sinn Féin candidate for the constituency earlier this month. 

Boylan previously topped the poll in the 2014 European elections in Dublin but lost her seat in the European Parliament in 2019.

She was elected to the Seanad last year. 

Boylan said that the by-election was “going to be a referendum on how the government are handling housing”.

“Sinn Féin has not only been holding the government to account in their mismanagement of the housing crisis but we’ve also been putting forward credible solutions,” she said.

Boylan said the country needs a “new approach” to tackling the housing crisis. 

Labour Party 

Ivana Bacik 005 Ivana Bacik pictured at the announcement of her by-election candidacy. Source: Leah Farrell

Senator Ivana Bacik is the Labour candidate in this by-election.

She has outlined that her priorities are “housing, care policies, environmental issues and better public amenities”. 

She said the government has “failed on housing”. 

Bacik said that her party is calling for “a rent freeze for three years”, labelling the government’s recent changes to controls as “piecemeal”

She said that the pandemic has shown how much government can do in an emergency situation and this bye-election was an opportunity to shake Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil out of their “complacency”.

Social Democrats

Sarah Durcan is the Social Democrats candidate in Dublin Bay South. 

The former Abbey Theatre board member previously ran in Dublin Bay South in last year’s general election.

Durcan said this by-election gives constituents the chance to “send a powerful message”.

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“That we expect more from our politics. That everyone has a right to an affordable home. That lengthy waiting lists for medical treatment are not acceptable. That nobody should be left behind,” she said. 

“This by-election is not only a referendum on this government, but on a way of political thinking that has locked-out and sold-out a generation – lacking imagination, ambition and the ideals of who we truly are as a people.”

Durcan is the Associate Director of Science Gallery International.

People Before Profit 

Brigid Purcell is the People Before Profit candidate in the constituency. 

On the party’s website, Purcell said her priorities are housing, workers and women’s rights and stopping pollution in Dublin Bay.

She said if elected she would focus on rent controls, setting the minimum wage at €15 an hour and stopping any church control over the new National Maternity Hospital.

Aontú 

Mairéad Tóibín is the Aontú candidate for Dublin Bay South. She previously ran in the 2020 general election. 

She is a pharmacist and the sister of party leader Peadar Tóibín.

Smaller parties 

The National Party will be represented on the ballot by its founder, Justin Barrett

Jacqui Gilbourne is the candidate for Renua in this constituency. She also contested the 2016 and 2020 general elections. 

Independents 

Peter Dooley, who previously contested the May 2019 local elections and the 2020 general election, is running as an independent candidate.

Councillor Mannix Flynn is also running as an independent candidate in the constituency. Flynn has been a councillor for several years and has contested previous general elections, including in February 2020.

Contains reporting by Rónán Duffy.

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