‘Labour gets its biggest vote share since 1969’
There were no boundary changes to this four seat constituency since 2007.
With Fianna Fail on the ropes nationally, this always looked like a constituency in which the party could lose both its seats, and so it proved. Even so, the scale of the slump was astonishing. Its two TDs had each won about 8,000 first preferences in 2007; now, neither even won as many as 3,000. The rivalry between them was intense. Conor Lenihan ended up nearly 400 votes behind Charlie O’Connor, whose 2,718 first preferences was probably less than the number of times he managed to work the word ‘Tallaght’ into media interviews.
Three of the four seats here were nailed down from the start. Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte received nearly 13,000 first preferences, more than any other Labour candidate in the country. For Fine Gael, Brian Hayes easily retained the seat he had regained in 2007. In 2007 the defeat of Seán Crowe of Sinn Fein had been one of the most surprising results; he had lost his seat despite having been 1–20 with the bookies on polling day to retain it. In 2011, he comfortably took the third seat.
The only uncertainty was whether the fourth and final seat would go to Fine Gael or to Labour. The first preference distribution answered this: Labour took 4,000 votes more than Fine Gael, with Dublin South-West becoming its strongest constituency in the country. Labour took 36 per cent of the votes, the most it has won in any constituency since 1969. Its second candidate, Eamonn Maloney, finished over 3,000 votes ahead of the Fine Gael runner-up Cáit Keane. Labour may not have won a seat in Donegal since 1927 but, in Maloney and Michael Conaghan (Dublin South-Central), it does have two Donegal men in the Dáil.