THE big loser in the redrawing of constituencies in Cork is likely to be Government TD Jerry Buttimer, but a political analyst has also issued a health warning to Fianna Fáil.
A large proportion of the Fine Gael man’s powerbase is to be transferred from Cork South Central to Cork North Central.
Mr Buttimer managed to pick up the fourth of five seats in Cork South Central in the 2011 general election, coming in the 11th count with 7,553 votes.
That was a significant improvement on his 2007 general election performance when he was eliminated on the 4th count with 5,180 votes.
However, the redrawing of two constituencies will have a significant impact. The result will be the loss of one TD in Cork South Central reducing it to a four-seater.
At the last election there was a 90,044 electorate in Mr Buttimer’s constituency, which under the reforms be reduced by 17,307.
The problem for the Bishopstown-based politician is that he would get a sizeable chunk of those votes which are to go into the constituency north of the River Lee.
It’s proposed that three electoral areas in Bishopstown be removed from Cork South Central along with a further two electoral in Glasheen.
These areas would be considered Buttimer heartland, although he would also scoop up a number of votes from three electoral areas in Gillabbey, one at the Mardyke and further two on the immediate western side of the city centre which are also set to be transferred to Cork North Central.
All the sitting TDs would lose votes from these areas, but the biggest impact will be on Mr Buttimer, who may have to look at the possibility of standing in Cork North Central the next time out.
He said yesterday he wouldn’t make any decision until he had fully analysed the recommendations.
Jane Suiter, a UCC-based lecturer in government, said that while Mr Buttimer would obviously be affected by such moves the pressure might also be felt by Fianna Fáil, which could lose one of its two seats in Cork South Central.
Micheál Martin, who had just become FF leader before the last general election topped the poll, elected on the 1st count with 16.7% of the vote and 10,715 first preferences. His running mate, the party’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath, was elected on the 12th and last count after getting 7,221 votes. It was a great result for the party, which suffered decimation elsewhere.
Ms Suiter said pressure would have to also come on FF because of the removal of more than 17,000 votes from the constituency.
“They (FF) may also not necessarily get the same vote because the party’s new leader (as he was in 2011) is not new anymore,” Ms Suiter said.
“It will be very difficult for Fianna Fáil to keep two seats in a four-seat constituency,” Michael McGrath said.
Ms Suiter said it made sense to move some sections of Cork North Central into the Cork North-West constituency.
She said electoral areas like Kilshannig, Mountrivers, Dromore and Kilcullen had more in common with the predominantly rural north-west constituency.
Losing rural voters is more likely to affect FG and FF candidates in Cork North Central.
However, if Mr Buttimer decides to contest that constituency he should take a significant proportion of the 17,000-plus votes he’d be missing in Cork South Central and would certainly be in the hunt for one of its four seats.
In the likely event that SF and Labour will each hold a seat that means Billy Kelleher (FF) could be in danger of losing out.
He hoovered up a significant amount of votes in last year’s election from the rural part of the constituency.
In total 5,048 votes would be transferred from Cork North Central to Cork North-West.
There are no changes envisaged in the four-seater Cork East constituency or the three-seater Cork South-West constituency.
See Constituency Commission Boundaries map here