Adrian Kavanagh, 13 June 2013
There currently are 130 councillors in the four different local authorities covering the Dublin region, with Dublin City (52 councillors) being the largest of these followed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown (28), South Dublin (26) and Fingal (24). The number of councillors in this region will increase significantly at the next local elections, with the number of councillors increasing by 16 in Fingal (a 67% increase), 14 in South Dublin (54%), 12 in Dun Laoghaire (43%) and 11 in Dublin City (21%) – see Figure 1. This notable increase in overall councillor numbers (53) in the Dublin region does offer a “political opportunity space” here to allow different candidates and political parties to make notable gains at the 2014 local elections, although some parties will be better placed to make gains than others due to changing support trends and the tendency (as in the second-order election model) for government parties to do less well in such mid-term contests.
At present, and taking account of changes of party allegiance and co-options since the June 2009 contest, Labour is the largest party at a local authority level in Dublin, currently holding 45 seats (35% of the total) across the four different local authorities – accounting for more than one in three of all the Dublin councillor numbers. Fine Gael is the next largest party across the different Dublin local authorities (36 seats, or 28% of the total number of seats), followed by Fianna Fail (17 seats, or 13%), Sinn Fein (8 seats, or 6%), the People Before Profit Alliance (5 seats, or 4%), the Socialist Party (3 seats, or 2%) and Eirigi (1 seat), with non-party councillors filling 15 of the 130 seats (12%).
At present, 44 of the councillors in Dublin are female (34%) and 86 of the councillors are male (65%) – this marks a notable change from the number of female councillors (39) that were elected in this region at the 2009 local elections. This would suggest that female politicians have fared well in terms of co-options to the different councils in the four years since the 2009 local elections. Labour has the biggest number (and indeed (if the smaller parties grouping is excluded) the largest percentage) of female councillors, with there being 19 female Labour councillors (42% of the total number of Labour councillors) in the Dublin region at present. 12 of the Fine Gael councillors are female (33%), as opposed to 4 Fianna Fail councillors (24%) and 2 Sinn Fein councillors (25%), in addition to four councillors from the smaller parties grouping (44%) and three of the non-party councillors (20%).
27 of the current number of Dublin councillors (21%) have been co-opted at some stage over the past four years – there is almost an even split (14 males, 13 females) in terms of the gender breakdown of these co-options thus accounting for the narrowing of the gender divide in local authority representation levels in this region over this period. The Labour Party has been the most likely party to co-opt females, with females accounting for 7 of the total number (12) of Labour co-options over the 2009-13 period. Fine Gael has co-opted three new female and three new male candidates over this period, while the only Fianna Fail co-option over this time period was a male and only one of the three Sinn Fein co-options was a female.