Constituency profile: Cork North Central

On foot of the last Boundary Commission, Cork North Central gained 11 electoral divisions and a population of 17,307 from Cork South Central. It also lost four electoral divisions with a population of 5,048 to Cork North West, and it remains a four-seat constituency.

Constituency profile: Cork North Central

A large portion of the electorate now lives in the rural country part of the constituency, or Cork’s commuter belt.

It includes the small towns and villages of Blarney, Whitechurch and Glanmire, Dripsey in the west and Cloghroe.

Within the city limits, the constituency is home to numerous working class communities from Knocknaheeney across Gurranabraher, Farranree and Churchfield, down into Blackpool and on to Ballyvolane and Mayfield. It also is home to the more rarefied middle class voters in Sunday’s Well and Montenotte.

Jonathan O’Brien looks certain to be re-elected here for Sinn Fein and could be the party’s only TD in Cork.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher also looks set to be returned and has established himself as a genuine contender to replace Micheál Martin as leader, given his affable and easy personal style.

After that, it is a matter of what can Fine Gael do to retain its one seat, currently held by junior minister Dara Murphy.

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Murphy is by no means certain to retain his seat in one of the few constituencies in 2011 which saw the Fine Gael vote drop.

Also, the recent controversy about his taking of a lift from gardaí to Dublin Airport from Cork has also overshadowed his re-election campaign.

The party also looks to have surrendered a guaranteed seat by not selecting senator Colm Burke in favour of Julie O’Leary, a Victoria Cross-based first-time candidate.

Burke’s strong rural base would have shored up much of the rural vote, but the party is now exposed.

As for the Labour party, Kathleen Lynch is running as a solitary candidate which got 26.5% of the vote in 2011, when Senator John Gilroy was her running mate. Lynch prevaricated over running again but agreed to stand having won concessions on health policy from Tánaiste Joan Burton.

While she is up against it, her long-standing record should see her retain a seat.

If this election had have been held in 2014, then Lynch may well have lost out to the Anti-Austerity Alliance candidate Cllr Mick Barry.

Barry and his comrades did exceptionally well in the local elections in May 2014, taking three seats on Cork City Council.

But with the anger around water charges dissipating somewhat since then and the presence of Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould, we reckon Barry will fall short.

Other candidates including Oliver Moran of the Greens, Ted Tynan of the Workers’ Party and ex-Sinn Féin man Ger Keohane are not expected to mount sufficiently strong campaigns to threaten.

While they may be made to sweat, we call the four seats for the four incumbents.

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