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Wexford after the next election

  • 10-08-2006 8:48am
    Registered Users Posts: 19,250 ✭✭✭✭

    Just got this from last Monday's Indo, they did a good piece on the Wexford constituency for the next election.Thought a few people on here might be interested...

    Where it all may be won and lost

    Key arena could well decide the make-up of next government

    WHEN Paul Kehoe introduced his constituency colleague Dr Liam Twomey at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis recently as "the man with the safest seat in Wexford", the joke was lost on nobody in the audience.

    With the Doc joining in the fun, Kehoe said Twomey had even promised to give him some of his "leftover" votes, adding that he was "under as much pressure as Michael Ring in Mayo".

    But when the serious business starts, both chief whip Kehoe and Health spokesman Twomey know they have a real fight on their hands to retain the two seats they hold.

    This five-seater takes in the expanding towns of Gorey, Enniscorthy, New Ross and Wexford as well as the traditional farming areas associated with the county.

    Established vote-getters will vie with upcoming pretenders in what is sure to be one of the key constituencies to decide the make-up of the next Government.

    Fine Gael actually won only one seat last time through Enniscorthy-based Kehoe, the man who successfully took over the mantle of former Agriculture Minister and Fine Gael constituency kingpin, Ivan Yates, when he quit politics.

    Twomey, a GP in Rosslare, was elected as an Independent but joined Fine Gael and is now one of its leading front benchers in a crucial portfolio.

    If Fine Gael is to get back into government, Wexford will be a good barometer. For it must win two seats here to have any chance of ousting Fianna Fail.

    Fine Gael is also putting forward a strong third man in county councillor Michael Darcy of Gorey, son of the former TD and still town councillor of the same name.

    Darcy is certainly in with a chance of taking a Fine Gael seat as he is well placed geographically in what is now one of the fastest-growing towns in the country.

    Up to few weeks ago, Darcy would have been virtually unchallenged for the number one slot in Gorey until the emergence of a surprise candidate, Colm O'Gorman.

    What came as a shock to many people in Wexford was, not just that the founder of the One-in-Four organisation for victims of child abuse was running for the Dail, but that he was doing so for the PDs.

    Labour would have been regarded, not least by the party itself, as his number one choice, but the high-profile charity boss surprisingly decided to throw his lot in with the PDs.

    It certainly adds an extra dimension to an already-crowded field in this five-seat constituency which, until Twomey's success at the last election, had been a largely predictable two Fianna Fail, two Fine Gael, one Labour banker bet.

    There are at least two distinct views about O'Gorman's chances.

    One is that he has simply joined the "wrong" party and, building a PD organisation virtually from the ground in the constituency, will have too much leeway to make up on his opponents in a formidable line-up.

    The other view is that with Gorey being a major commuter centre for city people who have moved out but have no ties or allegiance to the traditional vote in the constituency, O'Gorman's style and "celebrity" status will get him a sizeable vote which will put him in with a chance.

    His father, a Fianna Fail councillor, stood in two general elections for that party, so the O'Gorman family is not new to the political arena.

    He has just one year to make his mark and undoubtedly faces an uphill battle. Nevertheless, none of his opponents is prepared to write him off.

    Fianna Fail Junior Minister John Browne is probably the one Paul Kehoe could have accurately pinpointed as the man who really has the safest seat in the constituency.

    Nobody wants the "safe" tag but it is hard to see him not making it again, especially since he has been an ever-present for 24 years.

    Two first-time Fianna Fail candidates in Cllr Michael Connick of New Ross and Cllr Lisa McDonald of Wexford provide a strong back-up team for Browne.

    Cllr Connick, who is wheelchair-bound, has the imprimatur of former Junior Minister Hugh Byrne who lost his seat in 2002 by less than 80 votes.

    He will carry many of the party hopes to hold its second seat now that former county hurling manager, Tony Dempsey, who won a Dail seat at the first time of asking four years ago, is not to stand again.

    But Cllr McDonald, a Wexford solicitor, will be chasing most of the Dempsey vote from her Piercestown home and is highly regarded by the party leadership.

    Labour stalwart Brendan Howlin has made no secret of his view that his task in holding onto his seat would have been much harder if O'Gorman had run on the party ticket with him.

    The Wexford town man has been a TD since 1987 for the constituency once dominated by the late Labour leader Brendan Corish and is now back in the high-profile Justice portfolio after Pat Rabbitte's recent mini-shuffle.

    As is the case in an increasing number of delicately-poised constituencies, all the main parties will be fearful of the challenge being mounted by Sinn Fein.

    Cllr John Dwyer polled well in the European Parliament election and got 5,000 votes in the last general election.

    The party now has seven councillors in the constituency so its power base is well established.

    The Green Party has a long history of activity in the constituency, going back to the Carnsore Point protests of yesteryear and may have a candidate in the field while there will also be a handful of Independents - no doubt encouraged by the Twomey success lasttime - putting their names forward.

    Gene McKenna


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,724 ✭✭✭Dilbert75

    Interesting - though I think he confused Cllr Sean Connick and Cllr Michael Sheehan - both went for the FF convention, only Connick was selected.