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Senators Lorraine Clifford-Lee and james Reilly

Tweet-gate and a former minister looking for a comeback: The Dublin Fingal lowdown

The upcoming by-election is to replace MEP Clare Daly.

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

Today, we’re focusing on Dublin Fingal.

The by-elections are taking place on 29 November, in order to replace TDs who were elected to the European Parliament in May.

In Dublin Fingal, the by-election is to replace Clare Daly, a former Independents 4 Change TD.

The large constituency takes in areas such as Balbriggan, Malahide, Donabate, Swords, Lusk and Portmarnock. 

Who’s running?

In alphabetical order: 

Glenn Brady (independent): A social care worker who has campaigned for change in the government’s approach to housing, psychiatric services, and data protection.

Tracey Carey (Social Democrats): A businesswoman with an interest in employment rights, affordable childcare and mental health services.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fáil): A solicitor who is the deputy leader of Fianna Fail in the Seanad, as well as the party’s spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Children and Youth Affairs.

Councillor Ann Graves (Sinn Féin): She was elected to Fingal County Council in May, and has been vocal about issues such as local boil-water notices and the cost of insurance premiums. 

Cormac McKay (independent): A previous general and local election candidate, his priorities include housing, high rents, and climate change

Councillor Dean Mulligan (Independents 4 Change): A social care worker and Right2Water campaigner who was elected to Fingal County Council in May and is looking to regain the seat for I4C following Daly’s move to Brussels. 

Councillor Joe O’Brien (Green Party): Another new councillor elected during the recent ‘Green wave’, he says his priorities include housing, homelessness, and sustainability

Gemma O’Doherty (independent): A campaigner and former journalist who unsuccessfully contested the European election in Dublin earlier this year. She is the founder of Anti-Corruption Ireland

Senator James Reilly (Fine Gael): The former health minister and former deputy leader of Fine Gael is seeking to make a Dáil comeback after losing his seat in the same constituency in 2016. He is currently the party’s spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the Seanad.

Councillor Duncan Smith (Labour): Elected to Fingal County Council in 2014, he lists his priorities as affordable housing, sustainable transport and workers’ rights. 

Who are the current TDs?

The following TDs were elected to the constituency in the 2016 general election:

  • Alan Farrell (Fine Gael) – elected after count 10
  • Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil) – elected after count one
  • Louise O’Reilly (Sinn Féin)- elected after count 10
  • Brendan Ryan (Labour) – elected after count 10
  • (Independent Clare Daly, now an MEP, was elected after count four)

What are the main issues?

The Fingal area was among the locations affected by two recent boil-water notices, and the issue is coming up regularly on the campaign trail. 

Following heavy rain, the source water going into Leixlip Water Treatment Plant was cloudy due to suspended particles. The old plant at the site – which produces 20% of the overall daily water demand for the greater Dublin area – was not able to cope with the cloudiness levels.

The most recent boil-water notice lasted for over a week and locals are concerned it’s only a matter of time before another notice is put in place, despite the mitigation measures being implemented by Irish Water and others.  

A major sewage treatment plant in Clonshaugh was this week given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála, despite thousands of objections

The availability and cost of housing is also a major issue in the area, as are public transport, childcare and health services. 

Anything of note happened on the trail so far?

The main issue making headlines on the campaign trail to date has involved Fianna Fáil’s candidate Lorraine Clifford-Lee

The Senator apologised after offensive tweets she sent several years ago re-emerged, including ones where she used words such as “knacker” and “pikey”.

She later deleted all her tweets. 

tweets Twitter Twitter

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Clifford-Lee said she would like to apologise “face-to-face” to the Travelling community.

A Fianna Fáil statement noted that Clifford-Lee “wrote these tweets in a personal capacity many years ago. It was before she was elected or became a member of the parliamentary party”.

“It is party policy for some time that each member is responsible for their own tweets. The Fianna Fáil party does not condone these tweets and believe they were inappropriate.

“However, Senator Clifford-Lee has acknowledged her mistakes, has apologised and deeply regrets them,” it said.

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