Constituency profile: Louth

Number of seats: Five. Electorate: 99,530 as of last election

Constituency profile: Louth

SITTINGS TDS: 

Seamus Kirk (FF)

Gerry Adams (SF)

Fergus O’Dowd (FG)

Gerald Nash (Lab)

Peter Fitzpatrick (FG)

CANDIDATES:

Fergus O’Dowd (FG)

Peter Fitzpatrick (FG)

Declan  Breathnach (FF)

Emma Coffey (FF)

Gerry Adams (SF)

Imelda Munster (SF)

Ged Nash (Lab)

Mary Moran (Lab)

Gareth Weldon (AAA/PBP)

Mark Dearey (Greens)

Maeve Yore (Ind All)

Kevin Callan Ind

David Bradley (Ind)

Anthony Connor (DDI)

Peter Greene (DDI)

Michael O’Dowd (Renua)

PERCENTAGE OF VOTE SHARED IN LOUTH IN 2011:

Fine Gael 31.4

Labour 19.13

Fianna Fail 15.66

Sinn Fein 21.74

Greens 4.68

Others 7.29

PREDICTIONS:

Gerry Adams (SF), Ged Nash (Lab), Declan Breathnach (FF), Fergus O’Dowd (FG), Imelda Munster (SF)

LIE OF THE LAND:

If Adams and Munster both take a seat for Sinn Fein, Nash may be in trouble. Fine Gael will take at least one while Fianna Fail could come back with one too. Transfers from Independents are crucial.

LOCAL ISSUES:

The constituency is still scarred from the recession, with housing and unemployment issues. The social housing waiting list is close to 5,000. There’s huge anger against water charges (the county has one of the lowest payment rates nationally). Conditions at the local hospital also worry voters.

PROFILE

Traditionally a constituency with large Fianna Fail support, the party saw a huge slide away last time around, but could see a small revival this time. The real focus though could be on whether Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams can bring in his running mate and whether outgoing employment Ged Nash would therefor keep his seat or not.

Louth is still suffering from the recession, evident in the closed shops in Dundalk and Drogheda. Though a big commuter town during the Celtic Tiger, its building boom came to a shuddering halt.

The five-seater constituency’s boundaries remain unchanged since the last election. But this time the numbers and variety of the those on the field is much larger. Nearly every party or group is represented here. In fact, two brothers, namely Fergus O’Dowd for Fine Gael and Michael O’Dowd for Renua, are even on opposing political teams.

Sinn Fein previously already built up huge support here in years gone by under former TD Arthur Morgan, who doubled party votes in 2002. Adams will be keen to keep their position strong, by getting Munster (who topped the last local elections poll in Drogheda) a seat. Adams managed to get the third highest first preference vote in the country here last time.

Her gains though could be Ged Nash’ losses. The Labour TD, like others in his party, is feeling the pressure from other left-wing candidates. This is especially so in Louth, where almost half are left-wing candidates. Nash’s high profile though may help him.

In the last election, Fianna Fail here won no seats, with former Dermot Ahern retiring. While Seamus Kirk automatically kept his after being Ceann Comhairle, the party could make new ground with Declan Breathnach, based in Kirk’s old stomping ground of Knockbride and at the Dundalk side.

The party’s challenge though will come from Independents, with several running in Louth.

Fine Gael, while keen to keep its two seats, is likely though to see huge protest votes and therefor only keep one of its seats. With Fitzpatrick only declaring his intention to run at a late stage, observers say O’Dowd stands the best chance.

Lastly, keep an eye on the Greens Mark Dearey, a strong performer and one of the party’s best hopes of securing a seat.

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