Dublin West 2016

Map C Dublin 2016Dublin West is a 4-seat constituency situated north of the River Liffey and mainly comprises areas west of the M50 along with Castleknock. At the most recent boundary review, Phoenix Park and areas north of the Navan Road were added into the constituency.

This constituency is unique in having had TWO by-elections over the last four years. In one sense we have a rich pool of data to work off, however as we will discover, this only serves to reveal the volatile nature of this constituency.



Result Links:

LE – Castleknock 2009Mulhuddart 2009Castleknock 2014Mulhuddart 2014.

BY – Dublin West 2011 , Dublin West 2014.

GE – Dublin West 2011.

Note: Castleknock and Mulhuddart comprise the vast majority (89%) of the population of this constituency and are the basis for calculating the LE results above. The new areas added are roughly one quarter of the Cabra-Finglas LEA. The 2014 results reveal some interesting trends however we must be cautious in assuming that these trends hold in this particular corner of the ward.


Outgoing TDs

Leo Varadkar – Fine Gael – Minister for Health

Joan Burton – Labour – Tánaiste/Minister for Social Protection

Joe Higgins – Socialist Party

Ruth Coppinger – Socialist Party


Coppinger was elected in May 2014 and Joe Higgins has made known his intention to retire at the next election. The two government TDs will both contest this constituency, one of two constituencies (Limerick City being the other) where two cabinet ministers share the same constituency.



In a 4-seat constituency, the quota for one seat is 20% of the votes cast.

Fine Gael

Leo Varadkar photographed by Kevin AboschWhile the 2014 by-election only produced 13% support for Fine Gael, the local elections saw the party winning 17% of the vote. The recent rise in support for Fine Gael suggests that the party should be comfortably above the 20% threshold which would return Leo Varadkar as a TD for the third time. Likely to accompany Minister Varadkar on the ticket is Senator Catherine Noone. Previously a councillor for the South Inner City, Noone now identifies as a Dublin West Senator. There is no prospect for a second seat here since the balance of votes between the two candidates will likely weigh heavily towards the Health Minister. Instead there should be a sizeable level of transfers from Senator Noone, something that may benefit Joan Burton who will be fighting for her seat.


Joan-Burton-Election-picThe fortunes for Labour in this constituency have been poor since 2011. At the end of that year the party held two seats, Joan Burton and Patrick Nulty who was elected following the death of former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Soon after becoming a TD Nulty voted against the government over the 2012 budget, and later resigned over the sending of inappropriate messages. His seat was won by Ruth Coppinger and Labour’s vote fell to around 6%.

Despite these difficulties however, there remains hope for the Tánaiste and a number of factors will help her:

  1. Increased government popularity (Labour reaching 10% in recent polls)
  2. Transfers from Fine Gael
  3. Vote boost from newly added areas. (Labour polled 13% in Cabra-Finglas compared to 7% elsewhere in DW. Caution on this factor discussed above.)

The Tánaiste is likely to run on her own to preserve her chances.

Fianna Fáil

qES4tAyeThe chart above reveals enormous stability in the Fianna Fáil vote here, despite its fall from power in 2011 and subsequent stagnation. The party is keen to win back the seat once held by Brian Lenihan and has selected young Councillor Jack Chambers to run. Mulhuddart Councillor David McGuinness fought both by-elections for the party and ran at the last election. His failure to be selected prompted his resignation from the party soon after the selection of Chambers, leading many to believe that he will contest as an independent or under the banner of another party.

If McGuinness contests as an independent, he will risk Fianna Fáil’s chances at winning back its seat. However otherwise, it would appear likely that Fianna Fáil will have the votes to retain one seat.

Sinn Féín

PD-GazetteComing from a base of 6% in 2011, Sinn Féin’s vote saw a meteoric rise to 21% at last year’s local elections. The stability of this vote is untested however if national polls remain strong for Sinn Féin, it is likely that Mulhuddart Councillor Paul Donnelly will become a TD in 2016.

A worst case scenario for SF would be a resurgence for Labour in the Mulhuddart area and a boost for Socialists that would see Joan Burton and Ruth Coppinger re-elected, but Donnelly denied a seat. Considering that the “working class” areas of Dublin West have become a smaller component of this constituency through the addition of new areas, it is extremely unlikely for all three to take seats. We will return to this predicament below.

Socialist Party

RCWith two outgoing TDs, one would get the impression that the Socialist Party vote is on the rise in this constituency however the data reveal a different picture. Since 2009 the Socialist Party vote here has remained static or declined. At the time of writing, it is likely that Coppinger will produce enough votes to retain her seat, however the prospect of a weakening Water Charge movement, and resurgence for the government parties may leave her seat vulnerable in 2016.

Green Party

Castleknock Councillor Roderic O’Gorman has represented the Green Party here since 2004 and was elected to Fingal County Council in May 2014. His vote share sees incremental rises at every election however the Green vote here is coming from too low a base to be considered a contender in 2016.


davidhallTraditionally a poor constituency for independent candidates, this changed in 2014 with mortgage campaigner David Hall contesting the by-election. Winning an impressive 13% of the vote, Hall should not be dismissed entirely from winning a seat. The vote for Independents and Others remains buoyant however Hall will need to surpass either Chambers (FF) or Burton (Labour) to win a seat, not impossible, but unlikely at this point.

Other candidates

No other candidates have declared for this constituency yet. Keep an eye on Adrian Kavanagh’s website for new candidates.


There exists only one certainty at this election, and that is the re-election of Leo Varadkar. Putting aside his seat, who is in contention for the remaining three seats?

  • Joan Burton TD – Labour
  • Cllr. Paul Donnelly – Sinn Féín
  • Ruth Coppinger TD – Socialist
  • Cllr. Jack Chambers – Fianna Fáil
  • David Hall – Independent

In assessing this conundrum further, some generalisations are required about the location of the candidates in question. As has been mentioned, Dublin West is divided between the largely middle class local electoral area (LEA) of Castleknock, and the largely working class LEA of Mulhuddart. There are of course exceptions within each. We can assign our candidates accordingly:

  • Castleknock – Chambers (FF), Hall (IND)
  • Mulhuddart – Donnelly (SF), Coppinger (SP)
  • Mixed – Burton (Labour)

Joan Burton previously represented the Castleknock ward (1999) however previous local elections would suggest that Labour’s vote is higher in the Mulhuddart LEA. For this reason she has not been assigned to one area over another.

With Leo Varadkar based in the Castleknock areas, it is fair to assume that a candidate from Mulhuddart also wins a seat. With this in mind, I predict that Paul Donnelly from Sinn Féin will secure a seat.

The remaining two seats then become a toss up between Labour, Fianna Fáil, Socialists and Hall. The contest is essentially one of Labour vs Socialists in Mulhuddart, and Chambers vs Hall in Castleknock. The larger certainty here is that Fianna Fáil continues to hold its support and wins a seat.

The final seat then becomes a contest between Burton and Coppinger. If the election were held today I would give the seat to Coppinger however the recovery in the economy should see Labour regain enough support to keep its seat here in 2016. It is essentially a question of when the election is held.

  1. Varadkar (FG)
  2. Donnelly (SF)
  3. Chambers (FF)
  4. Burton (Labour)


Alternative scenarios

  • David McGuinness runs as an independent. His candidacy draws votes away from Chambers and denies Fianna Fáil a seat. David Hall receives strong transfers from a fellow independent candidate and takes a seat. This is dependent on strong support for independents, a trend which may reverse by 2016.
  1. Varadkar (FG)
  2. Donnelly (SF)
  3. Hall (IND)
  4. Burton (Labour)
  • David McGuinness runs as an independent and David Hall does not stand. Under this scenario McGuinness would draw enough votes away from Chambers to deny him a seat and many of his transfers would stay near his Mulhuddart base. These transfers would benefit Donnelly and Coppinger.
  1. Varadkar (FG)
  2. Donnelly (SF)
  3. Coppinger (SP)
  4. Burton (Labour)
  • Government supports remains low and Joan Burton loses out to Ruth Coppinger.
  1. Varadkar (FG)
  2. Donnelly (SF)
  3. Hall (IND)
  4. Coppinger (SP)
  • Sinn Féin support declines sharply and Ruth Coppinger receives a larger number of votes from the Mulhuddart areas.
  1. Varadkar (FG)
  2. Coppinger (SP)
  3. Chambers (FF)
  4. Burton (Labour)


Note: Candidates are not listed in any particular order but will often mirror their likelihood of election. The order of seat assignment and the number of first preference votes are beyond the scope of this analysis, especially when parties run multiple candidates.


Update 12/04/2015: – An earlier version of this article stated that Dublin West was the only constituency with two cabinet ministers. Limerick City also holds two cabinet ministers (Noonan and O’Sullivan).

Leave a Reply