Constituency profile: Cork South West

Taking in some of the most rugged and isolated areas in the country, the Cork South West constituency is based around fishing, agriculture, and tourism, but pharma, food, and the IT sectors provide significant jobs.
Constituency profile: Cork South West

The constituency usually elects a candidate from the three roughly defined geographical areas — west, mid, and east.

That trend was bucked in 2011 when two seats were won in the mid section and in the peninsulas, in the west. But a return to the status quo is expected this time around.

The rugged and far-flung nature of the constituency means the road network, in many areas, is in need of repair and upgrading.

A necklace of appealing harbour villages and towns from Kinsale to Beara puts the area on the list of top tourist attractions each year.

Many constituents are angered that the lack of infrastructure a proper road network, investment in basic services and facilities such as broadband — is hampering tourism growth.

Some constituents, especially in the more Western regions, feel they have yet to experience the recovery.

The isolated nature of the constituency means some areas have been more hard- hit by emigration, than others. And unlike parts of the city and county experiencing an upturn, the young generation is slower to return to West cork.

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Two sitting Fine Gael TDs, Jim Daly, who lives in Clonakilty in the near centre of the South West constituency, and Noel Harrington from Castletownbere, should be confident of returning to Dáil Éireann.

In 2011, Fianna Fáil’s traditional hit-miss two- candidate strategy backfired and left the final seat open for Labour’s Michael McCarthy.

This time around, Fianna Fáil have learnt their lesson and are putting forward just one candidate, county councillor Margaret Murphy O’Mahony. Despite her political inexperience, she is likely to take the third and final seat.

Former Fianna Fáil county mayor Alan Coleman, who quit the party late last year, could benefit from any split in the Fianna Fáil vote and is the most experienced local politician among the other contenders.

The winter floods and storms led to Bandon Flood Group activist Gillian Powell putting her name forward to highlight the slow progress on flood relief measures.

Ms Powell’s transfers and those of Bandon-based Sinn Féin county councillor Rachel McCarthy could also determine whether Ms Murphy-O’Mahony or Mr Coleman take the third seat.

Independent, poll-topping councillor Michael Collins is fighting head-to-head with Fine Gael’s Mr Harrington in the west, and in the event of the Fine Gael management strategy being too one-sided in Mr Daly’s favour, the popular community activist Mr Collins could take the seat.

Despite the appetite for a fresh independent voice to represent the area, the lack of strong candidates to take significant votes way from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil means it is unlikely such a hunger will be fed this time around.

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