Cherry Orchard's turnout at 45 per cent is poll record

By Maurice Garvey

ONE of the biggest stories for Dublin South Central was the increase of voter turnout in the traditional working class area on Cherry Orchard.

In the General Election 2002, voter turnout in Cherry Orchard was just 17 per cent – but the area gradually improved in 2007 and 2011, reaching a historic high of 45 per cent in GE16.

Dub Sth Central candidates

Voter turnout for GE16 in the South Central constituency was 58 per cent. Two ballot boxes from Cherry Orchard reached 52 per cent voter turnout.

Dub Sth Central graph

Councillor Daithí Doolan said: “It was great to see the votes from Cherry Orchard tumble out of the ballot boxes in their hundreds on Saturday. It made me proud to represent Ballyfermot. The people in Cherry Orchard now have a stake in the 32nd Dáil.”

Cherry Orchard voter turnout

BILLED as a straightforward four-seat constituency before election day, Dublin South Central nevertheless, threw up surprises and plenty of excitement at the RDS.

As expected, O’Snodaigh (SF), Collins (Ind) and Byrne (FG) retained their Dáil seats – not as comfortably as they may have liked – but we saw an incredibly drawn-out process for the final seat between Brid Smith (PBP) and surprise package Catherine Ardagh (FF).

Ardagh was just 35 votes behind Smith on the 11th count and asked for a recount, which went for three more days until shortly before 5pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Smith is the newest South Central TD to be elected to the Dáil, and has been a Dublin City councillor since 2009 for Ballyfermot-Drimnagh. She made an incredible comeback on Saturday, trailing Ardagh early on by over 1,000 votes, but reeling in transfers to close the gap as other candidates were eliminated.

Outgoing Labour TD Eric Byrne conceded he lost his Dáil seat early on in the count, securing just 7 per cent of the vote.

Perhaps, the biggest story for the constituency, was the increase of voter turnout in the traditional working class area on Cherry Orchard. Just 17 per cent in 2002, Cherry Orchard has improved considerably throughout 2007, 2011, reaching a historic 45 per cent in 2016.

Sinn Féin Counillor Daithí Doolan said it shows “if people feel they have a stake in the election they will turn out and vote” and “no matter who is or isn’t in government Cherry Orchard is firmly on the map.”

Another major story was the 694 spoiled votes – one of the highest totals in the State.

Political supporters at the count on Saturday reported pictures of di**s decorating a few ballots, whilst another genius settled for a simple f**k you beside a number one vote.

Dub Sth Central voter tunrout

However, it was also a historic occasion for representation of women, with three of the four candidates elected being female. Had South Central remained a five- seater, we would have been looking at four women elected, with Smith and Ardagh battling it out for the last seat. Catherine Byrne said it was “very interesting” and feels “politics needs more women.”

Joan Collins welcomed the development, but also said it was a “question of class” for respective women candidates and depends upon “which side you are on.”

So four days of recounts, three elected women TDs, three of four candidates left-leaning, representing a dramatic shift in dynamics for Dublin South Central.



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