Castleknock has plenty of bang for electoral buckMike Finnerty 01 Feb 2024
The big story of Castleknock at the 2019 locals was future Green Party Minister Roderic O’Gorman roaring home with 27% of first preferences, and Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie elected alongside him on the first count with just shy of 16% of first preferences.
Between them, O’Gorman and Currie took home around 43% of first preferences.
In the context of the 2024 race, it is not immediately apparent who may benefit from the massive surplus of votes considering both Councillors have gone onto higher office.
Both O’Gorman and Currie were elected as a TD and Senator respectively following the 2020 general election, with Pamela Conroy and Siobhan Shovlin co-opted onto Fingal County Council.
Being an incumbent is always an advantage for a candidate to have heading into re-election, and Conroy and Shovlin appear to be well set for re-election.
Conroy in particular should benefit from Castleknock being the home turf of Roderic O’Gorman, and having a Minister in your corner is a boon for any candidate.
Ted Leddy will also be running for Fine Gael, with Leo Varadkar’s party looking to return two candidates once again in Castleknock.
Leddy will be looking to secure a 3rd consecutive term on Fingal County Council.
With Castleknock being a 6-seater, and the first 3 seats being relatively easy to predict, things get interesting the further down the ballot you go.
Fianna Fáil have selected the incumbent Howard Mahony to run again, and it is worth noting that Castleknock is something of a stronghold for Fianna Fáil.
The party has gotten their candidate elected without fail since 1985, so it would be a major upset if the party didn’t get their man elected again this June.
Sinn Féin’s Natalie Treacy will now look to secure a term on Dublin City Council in Cabra-Glasnevin, with former Swords Councillor Phillip Lynam stepping in.
The party attempted to run two candidates last time with Tracey seeing a reduced vote share and being reliant on transfers to get her over the line against the Aontú candidate.
Of course, 2019 was a different political landscape compared to what voters are facing into 2024, and one would think that Sinn Féin won’t suffer a similarly bad day at the polls this time around.
Swapping Treacy for Lynam is like-for-like, with one veteran Councillor being switched out for another one.
Sinn Féin, and other parties of the left, have to contend with a former TD entering the race however.
Solidarity has opted to run former TD Ruth Coppinger in Castleknock.
10 years on from her victory in the Dublin West by-election, held on the same day as the local and European elections in 2014, Coppinger is looking to give the Solidarity wing of People Before Profit a boost.
Coppinger has remained active within politics ever since losing her seat in the 2020 general election, but a comeback for Coppinger here could serve as a reminder to other parties of the left that there is still an appetite among voters for tackling issues on a more radical basis as opposed to working within the system.
Solidarity secured 5.2% of first preferences last time, finishing behind Aontú, but the gravitas that comes with being a former TD cannot be understated.
John Walsh of Labour should be able to take comfort in the Social Democrats either not running or being unlikely to gain any headway in Castleknock as they didn’t run a candidate in 2019 and have not yet decided if they will be running a candidate.
As stated before, a party not having a candidate selected in February does not mean they have thrown in the towel necessarily, but it would be a help in this context.
Walsh was co-opted onto Fingal County Council in 2015 and secured a full mandate in 2019, so if the Social Democrats wish to put the nail in Labour’s coffin, they need more than 5 months of canvassing to take out a Councillor of nearly 10 years.
Another benefit to Walsh’s candidacy is his transfer-friendliness, and considering that the Green wave of 2019 is unlikely to repeat itself in 2024, parties such as Labour should be able to get themselves over the line on this occasion.
Aontú will be running their local area representative Ellen Troy as their candidate, hoping to build on their solid 2019 showing.
The party received more first preferences than Sinn Féin’s Natalie Tracey in 2019, but transfers got Tracey over the line on that occasion.
There is a lot to build on from 2019 for Aontú, and with the party selecting Troy last August, the party is keen to give bigger, more established parties a scare.
It is evident that the party are putting a lot of resources into getting someone elected onto Fingal County Council, but the big question mark remains – who exactly votes for Aontú?
In recent weeks, Troy has made the assertation that recent M50 toll hikes are a “tax on people who get up early.”
Aontú look to pick up disaffected social conservatives as well as anti-establishment voters.
With Castleknock being the backyard of a prominent member of Cabinet, a win here would send alarm bells ringing in Leinster House.
Castleknock being a 6-seater should be enough for the major three parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to get their people elected, the strong Green vote in the area is enough to get their candidate a seat, so the real drama will begin for the final seats.