As the Dublin Bay South by-election heats up and polling day draws ever closer, Fianna Fáil is hoping that Councillor Deirdre Conroy can secure the seat for the party.
The councillor for Kimmage-Rathmines is in a fiercely contested race for the seat vacated by former Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, who chose to return to a career in international affairs.
With twelve candidates already declared for the by-election, including Sinn Féin Senator, Lynn Boylan, and Labour’s Ivana Bacik, Ms Conroy, a barrister and architectural historian, is keen to win a second Dáil seat for the party in the south Dublin constituency. She is running on the three-pillar policy platform of crime, housing, and transport.
The mother of two was heavily involved in the Repeal the Eighth campaign, an issue linked to her personal experience. In 2002, when sixteen weeks pregnant, she was told that her child had a fatal foetal abnormality and would not survive after birth.
Having no legal option to terminate the pregnancy in the Republic, she subsequently took a case to the European Court of Human Rights where she argued that her tragic situation was made worse by the lack of options available to her.
The court ruled that Conroy ‘had not exhausted domestic remedies’ before seeking an abortion in the UK. Despite losing the case, known as D vs Ireland, it is viewed as a catalyst for the referendum held in 2017.
However, in the campaign so far, Conroy, a councillor since 2019, has come under severe pressure over a blog she wrote some years ago in which she relayed her views about a Latvian tenant who rented a room in her house 2013.
She took issue with his request to have the heating turned on at night and the ‘rancid smell’ left in the kitchen after his cooking.
Councillor Conroy is hoping to put this controversy behind her and has pledged to deliver for the people of Dublin Bay South on the issue of housing, claiming that a vote for her is a vote for tackling the contentious housing issue.
Many senior representatives have joined Councillor Conroy on the campaign trail, including Minister for Sport and Defence, Jack Chambers, MEP, Barry Andrews, and Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.
The constituency stretches from Rathmines to Ringsend and is viewed as a predominantly affluent area which has in the past favoured Fine Gael candidates. However, Conroy and the Fianna Fáil team are determined to gain more the traction than the Fine Gael candidate, James Geoghegan and not let history repeat itself. Conroy and her team have already released several videos on social media as they try to reach voters online, as well as canvassing in person.
Given the party’s track record of poor online communication and messaging, it is commendable to see their increased activity on social media. How or if this will work at the polls in three weeks time remains to be seen.
You can keep up to date with all the latest developments on our Dublin Bay South By-Election Coverage Podcast