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straight into jobstown

In one of the country's most volatile constituencies, it's two become none for Labour

Fianna Fáil is romping home in Dublin SW, where Labour’s vote is split all over the place.

IT’S A HELL of a poisoned chalice, being a poll topper in Dublin South-West.

In every general election since 1997, the party that’s claimed the first Dáil seat in the constituency has been turfed out at the following vote.

Brian Hayes bit the dust, for instance, in 2002. Séan Crowe of Sinn Féin, who topped the poll that year, found himself out of a job in 2007. And Conor Lenihan, the controversial Fianna Fáil junior minister, saw his vote collapse in 2011.

It’s fair to say that it’s one of the most volatile constituencies in the entire country. But its inherently fickle nature is not necessarily something Fianna Fáil’s John Lahart will be worrying about this afternoon.

The Knocklyon-based psychotherapist has been running an intensive ground campaign for the last few months – and speaking to on the trail at the start of the month, he said voters in the area were adamant they wouldn’t be voting for the coalition again.

He was only half-right. Colm Brophy, a popular Fine Gael councillor, looks set to claim a seat – but Labour’s vote, as it has in much of the country, pretty much evaporated.

What happened?

It’s not too difficult to explain why it’s been such a bad day for Labour in the area.

There’s the national trend, of course; there’s the retirement of Pat Rabbitte (poll-topper the last time out); there’s the fact that Eamonn Maloney, the former Labour TD, was running as an independent.

There was fierce opposition to water charges in the constituency too; Jobstown, one of the poorer communities in the area, was the site of the infamous protest against Joan Burton in 2014 – and while not everyone agreed with the actions of the demonstrators, voters who spoke to this website in the last number of weeks said they weren’t happy with the subsequent legal action against those involved.

Sinn Féin has been active in the area for years too, of course – and Paul Murphy’s Anti-Austerity Alliance has been working hard to increase their base in Jobstown and surrounding areas since his by-election victory less than 18 months ago.

Those Labour votes that went to Rabbitte and Moloney five years ago have split all over the place – but the main beneficiary appears to be Senator Katherine Zappone, who got a profile boost in last year’s same-sex marriage referendum. She’ll be in a battle for the fifth seat tonight with a second Fine Gael candidate, Anne-Marie Dermody.

download The infamous Jobstown protest of 2014.

Two become none 

Paul Murphy’s running mate Sandra Fay, a Jobstown-based teacher, said she wasn’t too disappointed not to be in the mix for the last seat – but claimed “soft media interviews” with Senator Zappone helped her rival’s fortunes (Zappone wasn’t immediately available in the count centre to respond to those comments).

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan, said the result for Sinn Féin and the left in the area was part of a “sea change” in Irish politics. Her party colleague Seán Crowe is likely for a seat in the constituency.

Finally Charlie O’Connor, the veteran FF representative who lost his seat in 2011, said it was clear that those Fianna Fáil votes Phil Hogan asked for a ‘lend of’ five years ago “are slowly coming back”.

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