On the face of it, it would easy to say that all five current TD’s ( as listed below ) could be returned. Perhaps with some slight difference in the pecking order.Up to now it is fair to say that the previous three Dáil terms have failed to create a thirst for change.
Many people would agree with this assessment and we could all sign off on it together, new politics is great, job done and thanks for calling.
However, politics is a strange beast and there is always scope for a shock. Although, the shock doesn’t necessarily mean a change, a continuance of the status quo can also have people’s jaws stuck to the floor at any count center.
Election 16 in Tipperary there were a few shocks. How big or small they were depend on your expectations. However if one was to call it early on the five TD’s elected were not exactly the five TD’s many predicted beforehand. Never mind the way in which they returned.
For example , if one was to predict that no sitting Fine Gael TD was going to return, well there would of been outrage from all people with a hint of blue in their bloodstream. Alas it wasn’t to be for the two outgoing Fine Gael stalwarts.
With none of the three previous candidates on the upcoming ticket. The responsibility has been bestowed upon less well known candidates in the form of Mary Newman Julian and Garret Ahearn.
Although neither has ever held public office both have strong Fine Gael backgrounds. Ms Newman Julian’s father was a Fine Gael Councillor in Westmeath and her sister is prominent Fine Gael TD Kate O’ Connell. Additionally, Ms.Newman Julian came third in a recent Seanad by-election.
Mr.Ahearn himself has strong blood ties to Fine Gael. His late mother Theresa Ahearn was elected three times to Dáil Éireann but sadly passed away in office. Ahearn served time as Minister Simon Coveney’s driver until Coveney became Tanaiste and required a Garda driver.
Which one of these if any is elected to the next Dáil remains to be seen.
However, reports are that although Ms.Newman Julian has only recently been added to the ticket (having only lost the convention to Ahearn by 6 votes ) she has hit the ground running and has recently taken leave from her job as a Vet with a large multinational to pursue her goal. Will this be enough ?
All expectations were that Mattie Mcgrath would return to Dáil Éireann. Any predictions that he would be scrapping it out for the last seat, were wide of the mark. When he was challenging Lowry for supremacy, those assembled wondered how long it would be before Mattie was in the door grinning like a Cheshire Cat and as gregarious as ever. The answer. Not long.
Furthermore, it was expected that at least one Fianna Fáil TD would be returned but which one. Siobhan Ambrose was seen by many as a token candidate, however it can be said that Ambrose polled significantly well and has a concrete foundation to work from in future elections.
The Fianna Fáil seat was always going to be a battle between Michael Smith junior and Jackie Cahill. Although there was less than 1,000 votes between them on the first count , this proved vital. It wasn’t to be for Smith and with his exclusion from the upcoming ticket , it may never be.
Sinn Fein’s strong showing can be attributed to the tireless work of its previous candidate and the party’s own surge in the polls. It will be interesting to see have recent controversies taken its toll in Tipperary and will the addition of a unknown quantity in Ciara Mcckormack prove sufficient this time around.
Similar to Mattie, Seamus Healy confounded many critics with a strong showing and once we were sent home on Saturday evening to return first thing Sunday. It was clear to all and sundry that the last seat would be between Labour’s Alan Kelly and Tom Hayes of FG.
Kelly’s strong showing in his own backyard due to both job announcements and indeed a strong traditional Labour vote paved the way for the outgoing Minister to return to Dáil Éireann.
What we know now in Tipperary is that we have declared candidates in
Michael Lowry (Ind)
Mattie Mcgrath (Ind)
Mary Newman Julian ( Fine Gael )
Jackie Cahill ( Fianna Fáil )
Seamus Healy (WUA)
Garret Ahearn ( Fine Gael )
Alan Kelly ( Labour )
Ciara McCormack (Sinn Fein)
Donie Shanahan ( Ind )
Sandra Farrell ( Fianna Fáil )
Imelda Goldsboro ( Fianna Fáil )
Fianna Fáil are expected to add a second candidate with Siobhan Ambrose been the obvious choice. Although reports are that this might not be as straightforward as one would suggest. Imelda Goldsboro could be a surprise addition.
Since this post was first post , Fianna Fail have decided to run former Labour Mayor of Nenagh Sandra Farrell. This addition has caught many by surprise , however the re-addition of the Lower Ormond area from the Offaly constituency has undoubtedly played a part in Ms.Farrell’s place on the ticket.
Ms.Farrell’s addition could also spell trouble for Alan Kelly’s prospects of returning to the Dáil. Up to Ms.Farrell’s selection Mr. Kelly had all of Nenagh to himself due to the decision of former Sinn Fein councilor Seamus Morris not to contest. Ms. Farrell’s presence on the ticket will almost definitely hinder Mr. Kelly’s prospects. Mr. Kelly was already feeling the pressure of the 4,300 votes moving from the Newport, Birdhill area into the Limerick constituency.
The emergence of Ms.Farrell has changed the dynamics of this constituency and one would have to assume that those in Fianna Fáil HQ have reason to believe that this is a shrewd move.
If Jackie Cahill were to focus on the Thurles area all the way down south , then on a good day Fianna Fáil could return to TD’s.
The addition of Imelda Goldsboro ( Fianna Fáil ) has baffled many heads in Tipperary. Geographically, Ms. Goldsboro’s closeness to Deputy Cahill has caused some bewilderment and you’d have to wonder if Fianna Fáil HQ just see Ms.Goldsboro’s addition as tokenism with a clear sight set on reaching the gender quota throughout the country. Only time will tell.
The declaration of Donie Shanahan from Toomevara is seen by many as a direct hit on Jackie Cahill’s base and could hinder his chances of returning to the Dáil. Mr Shanahan was preciously chairman of the Tipperary county board and also a former driver for Michael Smith.
He could eat into Cahill’s base whilst also taking a lions of Smiths traditional vote in Roscrea and Templemore.
It’s hard to see him winning a seat although it’s not impossible.
Mary Newman Julian
The last seat will be a dog fight between Alan Kelly, Seamus Healy, Sandra Farrell and possibly Garret Ahearn.
There’s a strong likelihood that Mattie could top the poll as he’s already actively campaigning and his media presence won’t hurt. Reports from Clonmel are that he’s all over it pressing the flesh.
Although Lowry topped the poll the last time his vote was more or less the same as it was when he was running in the Tipp North constituency. This would suggest that his voters are extremely loyal but he’s not gaining or losing new voters.
All in all it has all the ingredients to be a classic encounter.