Richard Chambers spends some time with Paschal Donohoe ahead of the upcoming election
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe is tussling with a Luas drivers' strike which is causing chaos in Dublin this morning but he has another career-defining battle on his hands.
He is perhaps Fine Gael's most vulnerable Minister in this Election, after boundary changes and a reduction in seats in Dublin Central.
In the two years he’s been in the Transport Minister’s seat at the Cabinet table he’s had to deal with issues at Irish Rail and the sale of Aer Lingus as well as Dublin Bus. People in the opposition have been critical of how he’s handled some of them but within Fine Gael, he’s very well regarded for maneuvering a number of these.
We were profiling him as part of our coverage of his battle in Dublin Central where he is regarded as Fine Gael’s Minister whose seat is under the biggest threat.
There are four sitting TDs in Dublin Central (Mary Lou McDonald, Joe Costello, Maureen O’Sullivan and Donohoe). The number of seats have been cut down to three so automatically that makes it more difficult, especially for the Government TDs.
But then, that reduction of seats comes about because areas like Ashtown, the Phoenix Park division, parts of Drumcondra have been distributed out to other constituencies.
That to Paschal Donohoe represents about half of his first preferences the last time around when he actually topped the poll.
So his battle now is shoring up support in his own area, Phibsboro, and it’s clear to see that even there, there’s no job too small for Ministers.
Anger at government ministers?
Paschal Donohoe’s tried to alleviate that by being fully based in his constituency for so long, he’s been knocking on doors since the last election and that’s probably helped him in a way but has also exposed him to people’s anger and concerns over a longer period of time.
The reality for so many though in Dublin Central has been hardship. Housing is a huge issue. Of course it’s a huge issue in so many areas across the country but right in the heart of the capital, it’s more acute than most.
What then does Paschal think about his own prospects?
It’s an interesting one. It’s something I asked him about, does he regret asking Enda for a switch elsewhere… was he dealt a bad hand or is he a sacrificial lamb?
He acknowledges the situation he’s faced with - but says he wouldn’t change it.