Count Weekend: The #GE16 Watch-List Part 1

Richard Chambers runs through the hopefuls you need to keep an eye on

12:31 27 Feb 2016 Richard Chambers 12:31 Saturday 27 February 2016

In the first of a two part series ahead of this weekend's General Election count, Richard Chambers takes a look at a cross-party selection of candidates who could make major breakthroughs.

Fine Gael: Cllr Noel Rock - Dublin North-West

Last time out, Dublin North-West was the only constituency in the country not to elect a Fine Gael TD.

Enda Kenny’s party may struggle to retain some of its Dublin seats but they could be in line for a surprise here if Noel Rock’s ground campaign pays off.

He’s been very visible across the constituency in recent months and his ‘no expenses’ pledge as a Councillor makes him more transfer friendly even among those who’d otherwise steer clear of his party.

Fianna Fáil: Shane Curran - Roscommon-Galway

There has been no shortage of former GAA stars who've made the transition into politics but former Roscommon shot-stopper Shane ‘Cake’ Curran is more outspoken than most.

He’s been one of football’s most outspoken pundits in recent years and his late entry into the race completely changed the dynamic in the constituency.

His name and face recognition alone is a massive bonus to Fianna Fáil locally and his visibility in the aftermath of the winter flooding can’t hurt his chances.

Labour: Senator Lorraine Higgins - Galway East

Labour are facing a bit of a kicking across the country, let’s not pretend otherwise. A rare bright spot for them could be provided by Lorraine Higgins who has a decent chance at regaining the seat the party lost when Colm Keaveney walked out in 2013.

She has a higher profile than most members of Seanad Éireann and hasn’t faced quite the same level of backlash as many of her party colleagues have at the doors.

Sinn Féin: Cllr Eoin Ó Broin - Dublin Mid-West

Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle member Eoin Ó Broin has done outstandingly in a number of media performances across the campaign to date, wrong-footing many coalition TDs and candidates in the process.

He’s all but nailed-on for a seat this time around and is likely to be a fixture on the party’s front bench in the years ahead with some going so far as to tip him as a future Sinn Féin President.

AAA-PBP: Cllr Gino Kenny - Dublin Mid-West

Fighting for a seat in the same constituency as Ó Broin is popular local councillor Gino Kenny.

He was elected to South Dublin County Council in 2009 and has made a name for himself in the campaigns against property tax and water charges.

It won’t be easy for Gino. However, with the backlash against Labour and austerity so intense in the constituency, only a fool would write him off.

Social Democrats: Niall Ó Tuathail - Galway West

The SocDems may struggle to win any more seats than the three in their possession. If they do, look no further than Niall O Tuathail to lead the charge.

Cross-party canvassers in Galway have been noticing his name cropping up on the trail and he’s performed admirably in hustings and local media events to date.

The Trinity College graduate was behind a successful software start-up and his experience in infrastructure give him more exposure than most to some of the pressing issues out West.

Renua: John Leahy - Offaly

It’s fair to say that Lucinda Creighton’s Renua hasn’t made quite the splash many predicted before it launched last year.

Most politicos see the party in a real battle to keep hold of its three seats but they could actually gain one in Offaly.

John Leahy was headhunted by Creighton after a strong performance as an Independent in the 2011 election and his emergence on the national stage has given him a boost missing from many Renua candidates.

Independents: Dr Michael Harty - Clare & Katherine Zappone - Dublin South-West

Independent Senator Katherine Zappone

With so many Independents in the race, it's only fair to pick two of them to keep an eye on this weekend.

Starting in Clare, Dr Michael Harty has made a serious impact in the local campaign since taking up the ‘No Doctor No Village’ banner and, with one of the seats certainly open to Independent candidates, he could be the man to claim it.

In Dublin South-West, Senator Katherine Zappone’s prominence in the Marriage Equality Referendum will do her no harm in her bid to pick up transfers in a crowded field. She appears to be making up ground and has seen her odds of success move from 33/1 to 5/1 in recent weeks. She’s still an outsider here but, as we’re likely to find out across the country, there will be plenty of upsets by the time all votes have been counted.