‘Fianna Fáil don’t fare well without Bertie’
There were no boundary changes to this four seat constituency since 2007.
From the death of George Colley in 1983 until he announced on 30th December 2010 that he would not be contesting the 2011 election, Bertie Ahern was the undisputed kingpin here. Running mates came and went, some successful and some not, all left in little doubt that their allotted role was that of subordinate hoping to pick up the crumbs from Bertie’s surplus, and that they should not develop any notions of equality. Vote management elsewhere usually means trying to divide a party’s votes equally among its candidates, but in Dublin Central it meant trying to direct every available first preference to Bertie and taking it from there.
How would Fianna Fail fare without Bertie? Not well, everyone assumed, and they were right. Mary Fitzpatrick probably benefited from the continued open antagonism of the Drumcondra Mafia and from her appointment to Micheál Martin’s front bench, and did well to finish as runner-up. Her time may yet come. The remaining incumbent, Cyprian Brady, may wish he had accompanied his patron into retirement. He increased his 2007 first preference tally by 74 per cent, quite an achievement for a Fianna Fail TD in 2011 – but since he had received only 939 first preferences in 2007, he still ended up amongst the also-rans in 2011. Whether Bertie Ahern himself would have been re-elected had he stood in 2011 will remain forever unknown.
The four seats sorted themselves out without much complication. Paschal Donohue of Fine Gael seemed a certainly based on his performances in 2007 and at the 2009 by-election, and he headed the poll. Labour’s Joe Costello, now the veteran of the constituency, took the second seat. The third went to Maureen O’Sullivan, a former member of Tony Gregory’s organisation who had won the 2009 by-election brought about by Gregory’s death. Mary Lou McDonald’s 13 per cent of the vote made some wonder whether she might fall short yet again, but decent transfers, especially from ex-Sinn Fein councillor Christy Burke, ensured that she and Sandra McLellan in Cork East became Sinn Fein’s first female TDs since Caitlín Brugha in 1927.