Constituency profile: Meath West

One of just eight constituencies to remain unchanged by the latest Constituency Commission, Meath West remains a three-seater.

Constituency profile: Meath West

The two three-seat constituencies were formed from the division of the old Meath five-seater for the 2007 election, which saw Noel Dempsey and Johnny Brady returned with 51.6% of first preferences in Meath West.

Taking in the county town of Navan, as well as Trim, some of the Kells surrounds, Athboy, Ballivor, this largely rural constituency is one with the fewest candidates running.

Less liberal in its outlook than the neighbouring Meath East constituency, which takes in the commuter towns of Ashbourne and Rathcoole, Meath West was the home patch of former Fianna Fáil minister Noel Dempsey until 2011.

His retirement, combined with the national slump in support for Fianna Fáil, saw it take no seats which enabled Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tobin to claim a seat.

Tobin, despite having lost the Sinn Féin whip for a short time over his opposition to the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, is all but assured to retaining his seat.

Junior Minister Damien English is contesting his fourth General Election having been returned on every occasion since 2002. Having toiled the backbenches for 12 years, Enda Kenny finally rewarded him with a ministerial leg up.

English is well-liked and is a consistent vote-getter and is also likely to be returned.

Which means the final seat comes down to a battle between English’s running mate, Ray Butler of Trim and Fianna Fáil’s candidate Shane Cassells.

The concentration of a number of candidates around Navan largely leaves Trim open to Butler, and the town has returned its own deputy in every general election since at least the 1970s.

Cassells being based in Navan may also hinder his chances but, as things stand, we reckon he will have enough to overcome Butler to take the seat.

None of the other candidates, based on local knowledge and latest polling data, are likely to feature in the final shake-up for the seats.

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