The cheesy yet genuinely funny ad, (wink from candidate to camera included) is so bad it is good and Heydon, all gimmicks aside, is a politician of real substance. He is well-liked by the electorate and has performed well since first entering the Dáil in 2011. He was a member of the so-called ‘Five-A-Side’ group of Fine Gael rebels who spoke out against party policy. He later distanced himself from the group before it was disbanded. All indications are he will top the poll and safely return to Leinster House. His running mate, Fiona McLoughlin Healy, is expecting to perform well and could even challenge for the last seat.
Fianna Fáil’s Dáil whip, Sean O Fearghail, who had to overcome a rather messy selection convention, is the party’s standard bearer in this election and should retain his seat.
His running mate, long-standing councillor Fiona O’Loughlin, last year questioned the sincerity of Fianna Fáil’s commitment to running more women candidates as she sought to be added to the ticket. She, too, should the party continue to have a good campaign, could very well challenge for the third seat and her stellar pedigree at local level is a considerable benefit to her.
The big conundrum is whether Labour councillor Mark Wall can retain the seat being vacated by his dad, Jack Wall, the outgoing chairman of the party. One of the true gentlemen in Irish politics, Jack’s easy manner and affability has seen him elected on every occasion since 1997. A former chairman of the Kildare GAA county board, Jack leaves a big political hole to fill but his son has many of his father’s attributes. A loyal Labour vote, we feel, should be enough to see him home, if only just.
None of the other party candidates or Independents are likely to threaten, and this is one of the constituencies where Sinn Féin’s vote is weakest. Renua Ireland had looked to Jack and Jill founder Jonathan Irwin to stand for them but he withdrew from the race on health grounds last year.