Constituency Profile: Kerry

Quick facts:

  • New 5-seater
  • 6 sitting TDs: Jimmy Deenihan (FG), Brendan Griffin (FG), Arthur Spring (LAB), Martin Ferris (SF), Michael Healy-Rae (IND) Tom Fleming (IND)
  • Ministerial representation: Minister of State Jimmy Deenihan
  • Population: 145,502
  • 2011 poll topper: Jimmy Deenihan, Fine Gael and Brendan Griffin, Fine Gael
  • Most likely loser: Arthur Spring, Labour
  • One to watch: John Brassil, Fianna Fáil

Kerry has been united as a single constituency for the first time since 1933, but it comes at the price of losing a seat. This pits six sitting TDs against each other plus Fianna Fáil - who had never had less than 2 TDs since 1918 - trying to get at least one back.

While the local election suggests that they should the actuality might not be as easy. With the West Limerick portion of the previous Kerry North constituency gone it means that there are some 8,000 more votes in the old Kerry South constituency. This makes it more likely that the fifth seat will be in the south.

Michael Healy-Rae is a banker as is Jimmy Deenihan, but beyond them there are no guarantees. Sinn Féin should retain their seat, but they have very limited support in south Kerry, while only the Spring name gives some hope to Arthur.

The local elections clearly pointed to two Independent seats, and that both would come from the south. That should mean that Tom Fleming holds on, emulating his and Healy-Rae’s 2011 performance when Kerry South was the first constituency for 60 years to return two Independents.

Therefore if Fianna Fáil are to win a seat it is likely to come from Cllr Norma Moriarty, but she will have to defeat Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin and will also be depending on significant transfers from her running mate in the north. With no history of transfers between the two parts of the county, she wouldn’t want to be relying on that.

Possible result:

  • 2 FG
  • 1 SF
  • 2 IND
  • 0 LAB (-1)

Ivan's take: Yates is calling the result as two for Fine Gael, one Independent, one for Fianna Fáil, and one for Sinn Féin - with only one Healy-Rae being elected.

  • John Brassil - FF More Info:

    John Brassil has been a Kerry County Councillor since 1999. A pharmacist from Ballyheigue, his father was also a Councillor between 1974 and 1999. He served as Cathaoirleach of the county between 2014-2015. He said the politician he admired most in the Dáil outside of Fianna Fáil was Joe Higgins. 

  • Donal Corcoran - REN More Info:

    Corcoran is Tralee based and is standing because he is "disillusioned with the existing parties". He also wants to repeal the 8th Amendment.

  • Jimmy Deenihan - FG More Info:

    Jimmy Deenihan has been a TD since 1987. He was appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2011, but was demoted to a newly created junior ministerial post of Minister for the Diaspora in the 2014 reshuffle. He played gaelic football with Kerry in the 1970s. 

  • Martin Ferris - SF More Info:

    Martin Ferris has been a TD since 2002, and was a Kerry County Councillor from 1999 to 2003. He unseated former Tánaiste Dick Spring in the 2002 election. He joined the Provisional IRA in the 1970s. He was jailed for IRA membership in 1975, serving 9 months in Portlaoise. He was jailed again for IRA membership in 1976 and took part in a hunger strike in prison. In 1984 he was jailed for 10 years for attempting to import arms. In 2005 then Justice Minister Michael McDowell named Ferris under Parliamentary Privilege as being a member of the IRA’s army council. He refused to condemn the murder of detective Garda Gerry McCabe in a botched post office raid in Adare in Co Limerick in 1996. 

  • Brian Finucane - AAA-PBP More Info:

    Brian Finucane contested the 2014 local elections for the People Before Profit Alliance but didn’t win a seat. He joined the PBPA to campaign against the home, water and septic tank charges. 

  • Michael Fitzgerald - GP More Info:

    Fitzgerald is from Castlegregory and is highlighting education and tourism.

  • Mary Fitzgibbon - IND More Info:

    Fitzgibbon is running on a pro-life ticket.

  • Henry Gaynor - IND More Info:

    Gaynor from the Spa, Tralee, is running on anti-water charges and anti-austerity platforms.

  • Brendan Griffin - FG More Info:

    Brendan Griffin (born 1982) was elected to the Dáil in 2011. He’d been elected to Kerry County Council in 2009. He courted controversy in the 31st Dáil with revelations that he had hired his wife and his cousin for jobs paid for by the taxpayer. He also used a portion of his salary to pay for a teacher in a small rural school. 

  • Michael Healy Rae - IND More Info:

    Michael Healy Rae is a TD since 2011. He’s the youngest son of Jackie Healy Rae who was a TD from 1997-2011. He served as a Kerry County Councillor from 1999 to 2011, and was Mayor of Kerry on two occasions. He won the RTE reality TV series Celebrities Go Wild in 2007 – but it emerged in 2011 that a large number of votes had been received from a phone in Leinster House at a cost to the taxpayer. 

  • Danny Healy-Rae - IND More Info:

    Danny Healy-Rae is a Councillor and brother of Michael. He has won 3 successive local elections in Killarney LEA. He got 4,388 votes in 2014 the equivilent of 2.16 quotas.

  • Norma Moriarty - FF More Info:

    Norma Moriarty was elected to Kerry County Council in 2014. She is a teacher and long time community activist. 

  • Kevin Murphy - IND More Info:

    Killarney-based Murphy is running on anti-water charges and anti-austerity platforms.

  • Grace O Donnell - FG More Info:

    Grace O'Donnell is one of three Fine Gael candidates for the Kerry constituency, alongside Jimmy Deenihan and Brendan Griffin. She is a former Mayor of Tralee. She received 4.1% of first preference votes in the 2014 local elections in Tralee.

  • Michael O'Gorman - IND More Info:

    Independent candidate Michael O'Gorman has previously run for local council in the Listowel ward. He received a 5.5% share of the vote in the 2014 local elections.

  • Arthur Spring - LAB More Info:

    Arthur Spring was elected to the Dáil in 2011. He was also elected to Kerry County Council in 2009. He is a nephew of the former Tánaiste and former leader of Labour, Dick Spring. 

Kerry - First Preference Vote Share, General Election 2011