Feb. 27, 2016, 9:44 a.m.
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The ballot boxes are open in Dublin West; the first part of the constituency to be opened was in the Clonsilla area.
All eyes are on this constituency due to the position of Tanaiste Joan Burton.
She is contesting for the last seat alongside Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger. Tallymen are predicting we will have good indication by 12.
Ms Burton was the poll-topper in this constituency last time and nearly managed to bring in her running mate, Patrick Nulty. He made it to the Dáil in a byelection later in the year following the death of Brian Lenihan.
However, he voted against the 2012 budget and resigned his seat two years later. Burton was appointed Minister for Social Protection on the formation of the Coalition and succeeded Eamon Gilmore as party leader and Tánaiste in June 2014. Dublin West was the only constituency in the capital to return a Fianna Fáil TD at the last election. Lenihan held on in the face of the massive national swing against Fianna Fáil, even though the party vote in the constituency more than halved compared to 2007.
His role as minister for finance during the financial crash earned him huge respect despite the scale of the austerity measures he was obliged to introduce. Sadly, he died from pancreatic cancer less than six months after the election.
Rising Fine Gael star Leo Varadkar consolidated his position in the constituency in 2011 and has proven to be one of the most popular ministers in the Coalition. He was promoted to the difficult Department of Health in the 2014 summer reshuffle. Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins made a comeback in the last election, having lost his seat in 2007.
In May 2014, he was joined in the Dáil by party colleague Ruth Coppinger, who was elected in the byelection to fill the vacancy caused by Nulty’s resignation. Higgins is not running this time.
Constituency changes
There have been some significant changes in the constituency boundary since the last election, with the transfer out of 17,291 people in the Swords area into the new Dublin Fingal five-seater.
To compensate, a chunk of Dublin Central, with a population of 13,256 people, has been transferred in. The Swords area was not a natural fit for Dublin West and the redrawn constituency is more compact.
Local issues
There are three distinct parts to the Dublin West constituency. The Castleknock area is generally middle-class, with some parts of it very comfortable.
Old settled parts of Dublin Central along the Navan Road, which are moving into the constituency, fit neatly with this part of the constituency. Out in the west of the constituency, big housing estates around Mulhuddart have a large working-class population. There is also a substantial immigrant population in these areas, although many of them are not entitled to vote. Massive new housing developments in Ongar, near the border with Co Meath, form another distinct unit in the constituency.
These are mainly private houses and apartments built since the turn of the century and they have a distinct set of concerns. The issues vary from one part of the constituency to the other, although jobs are a concern right across the board.
The level of public services, particularly education and transport, are a major issue in the newer parts of the constituency. A number of new schools have been built over the past five or six years but there is demand for more.
The need for improved public transport services is a particular concern in places like Ongar.