‘Noonan tops the poll in one of the country’s least marginal constituencies’
This constituency was affected by boundary redrawing, losing an area with over 17,000 people to the new Limerick County and consequently changing from a mainly urban 5-seater to an overwhelmingly urban 4-seater.
As a 4-seater, it was one of the most predictable constituencies in the country. Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan, restored to front-bench prominence as an unforeseen but fortuitous side-effect of the heave against Enda Kenny the previous summer, headed the poll with his largest vote ever, and the party vote advanced by nearly 18 per cent, its second biggest gain in the country. Nearly 3,000 votes from Noonan’s surplus helped Kieran O’Donnell into the second seat.
Willie O’Dea had headed the poll here with a sizeable surplus at every election going back to 1989, but now he lost over 12,000 of his huge 2007 vote, the national swing against Fianna Fail being compounded by the local difficulties that had seen him leave the government a year earlier. This was still enough to secure him the third seat, but his running mate Peter Power, a junior minister seemingly on the way up, found himself down among the also-rans and was eliminated on the sixth count.
The Labour vote was up, and Jan O’Sullivan was comfortably re-elected, but hopes that the party could take a second seat through her running mate Joe Leddin came nowhere near materialising. Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan gained publicity through his role in the events that brought about O’Dea’s downfall in 2010 and achieved runner-up status, but on this showing Limerick City is one of the least marginal constituencies in the country.