jan o’sullivan labour limerick city fianna fáil ‘s willie o’dea seat
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Labour minister Jan O’Sullivan is in a battle for for fourth seat in Limerick city according to latest tally results.
The outgoing Minister for Eduction is running neck and neck with anti Austerity Alliance candidate Cian Prendiville.
Fianna Fáil ‘s Willie O’Dea is continuing to top the poll in Limerick city with over half of the boxes tallied in the four seat constituency.
Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan is also looking in a strong position to take a seat with 15.5 per cent of first preference votes according to tallies, while Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Deputy Kieran O’Donnell are both on around 12 per cent.
Limerick city was a microcosm of the country at the last election. Fine Gael romped home with two of the four seats, Labour put in a strong performance comfortably holding one seat while Fianna Fáil hung on by the skin of its teeth to retain one seat in a region it had dominated for decades.
Michael Noonan was the dominant figure in the constituency at the last election and all the signs are that he will play a pivotal role again. First elected in the old Limerick East in 1981, he has proved himself a great vote-getter in good times and bad. As Minister for Finance in the outgoing Government he is widely regarded as having done an outstanding job and that should boost his performance and that of all the Coalition TDs.
The two Government parties took a heavy knock in last year’s European and local elections which saw both Sinn Féin and the hard left make serious inroads. The big question is whether that trend will accelerate in the general election or whether voters will move back to the established parties.
Limerick city was a new constituency at the last election which lost the rural end of the old Limerick East and was centred on the city and its suburbs. However, in the most recent constituency review a swathe of the old rural east Limerick was added back to it as a four-seater in the slightly smaller Dáil.
With a rural population of 11,197 added to the city, the new constituency now stretches out past Cappamore as far as Bilboa on the Tipperary border. It has changed the complexion of the constituency to some degree but there aren’t enough rural voters to fundamentally alter its make-up.
As in all other constituencies, job creation is a big issue in Limerick but here the news is good. At least 850 new jobs have been announced by the multinational sector since the beginning of the year and the pace of new investment appears to be accelerating. While Dell cut its workforce by more than 1,000 during the recession, the inflow of new jobs has more than compensated.
The role of the local third-level education sector in providing the appropriate training for these industries has been crucial and the continued viability of Shannon Airport as an independent entity has also helped.
However, overcrowding in the accident and emergency wing of Limerick Regional Hospital is a potentially negative issue for the Government parties as is the housing problem. Limerick, like other major urban centres, is suffering from a shortage of affordable housing and people are being forced into expensive rental arrangements.
Crime in the city is not as big a problem as it was some years ago but rural crime has emerged as a worry for a significant number of voters. The death of John O’Donoghue, who suffered a heart attack after encountering a gang of intruders running out of his home near Doon, highlighted the problem. Other people in the area have had their hay sheds burned down in recent times and there are demands for more gardaí in the area.