Results see-saw to show class, regional and personality issues

AS rural areas blew cold on Lisbon in the run-up to the referendum, yes campaigners were heard to assure themselves that whatever happened in the regions, the Pale would keep the colour in their cheeks.

But Dublin isn’t divided into 12 constituencies for nothing and the capital and its 785,000 voters proved a far more complex entity than the yes side hoped for.

The commuter counties of Meath, Wicklow and Kildare proved no haven of homogeneity either.

Dublin South said yes, Dublin South-West no.

Kildare North yes, Kildare North no. Meath East yes, Meath West no.

And so it went on, back and forth across the region, until finally the 17 constituencies broke down 10 in the no camp and seven in the yes.

It was the greatest concentration of yes victories in the country and it produced a very close overall finish — 51.5% against the treaty compared to 48.5% in favour — so the yes side were justified in placing their hopes there.

If there was another trend, it was where class had clout. The more predominantly working class constituencies, like Dublin South Central, Mid-West and South-West, recorded the strongest no votes — South West having the highest no margin in the country.

Wealthier areas, like Dublin South and Dun Laoghaire, by contrast had the strongest yes votes — Dun Laoghaire having the highest yes margin in the country.

The impact of personalities on the poll was mixed. Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to do Fianna Fáil one last service in Dublin Central where the no camp won out by 56% to 44%, although that could be read as a personal success for Tony Gregory.

Mary Harney could not convince her Mid-West constituents to back the Government’s stance, Brian Lenihan had no joy in Dublin West and eternal man of the people, Charlie O’Connor, couldn’t bring South-West around to Fianna Fáil’s way of thinking.

Mary Hanafin was the only senior Government figure with reason to feel triumphant, Dun Laoghaire voting 63.5% yes.

Bizarrely, people in some no constituencies voted along the lines of politicians they unceremoniously dumped in last year’s general election. Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe lost his seat in Dublin South West yet the vote was a dream for his party — 65% voting against the treaty. Similarly, Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins was pushed out of Dublin West last year but his constituency voted 52% on the no side.

In Dublin Central, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and the Green Party’s Patricia McKenna were two of the high-profile candidates who failed to gain a seat in the general election, but their pleas for a no vote went down much better this time.

In the commuter counties, Noel Dempsey got stung by a determined no in Meath West but the

result from Wicklow — a narrow no victory — was arguably an even bigger backyard disaster for Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche, who must be wondering if his rollercoaster career in Fianna Fáil is about to take a stomach-lurching tumble.

The fact that the constituency also recorded the largest proportion of spoiled votes in the country — more than the number of votes that split the yes and no bundles — will also be a sore point for the Minister whose job was to clear up confusion about the treaty’s contents.


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