Friday 9 December 2016

Enda 'worst performer' in Mayo but Fine Gael 'to win 3 seats'

Published 15/02/2016 | 02:30

Michael Ring canvassing in Claremorris, Co Mayo, with Marie Glynn. Photo: Michael McLaughlin
Michael Ring canvassing in Claremorris, Co Mayo, with Marie Glynn. Photo: Michael McLaughlin
Michelle Mulherin, Fine Gael candidate for Mayo. Photo: Tom Burke

Fine Gael is on course to retain three seats in Enda Kenny's constituency - despite voters believing the Taoiseach has been the least effective TD in Mayo.

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Mr Kenny and junior minister Michael Ring should pass the quota on the first count, an exclusive Millward Brown poll for the Irish Independent reveals.

The results bring some positive news for the Fine Gael leader, amid growing concern that the party has lost ground nationally since the start of the election campaign.

The Taoiseach, who is the longest-sitting TD in the Dáil, is on 24pc, followed by Mr Ring on 23pc. But the real achievement for Fine Gael is that their transfers should be enough to help Michelle Mulherin (9pc) stave off the rising threat in the constituency from Sinn Féin's Rose Conway Walsh (11pc).

The poll shows Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary (19pc) will come close to getting a quota and is all but certain to take a seat once his running mate Lisa Chambers (8pc) is eliminated.

Fine Gael won a historic four out of five seats in the 2011 election but the constituency has since been reduced to four seats, with John O'Mahony agreeing to move to Galway West.

On the night of the Mayo selection convention last October, Mr Kenny said it would be a "Herculean task" for them to win three out of four.

The poll involved face-to-face interviews with 502 adults at 46 sampling points in Mayo between February 9 and 11. The margin of error is 4.4pc.

It shows that Mr Kenny and Mr Ring will both easily retain their seats and should have a surplus to pass on to Ms Mulherin.

While Mr Ring is the most popular candidate in terms of second preferences on 27pc, Ms Mulherin ranks second on 17pc.

Overall, some 59pc of people said they would give their second preference to Fine Gael.

Although she is only in fourth place on number one votes, Ms Conway Walsh is not transfer friendly, with just 5pc of voters saying they would give her a number two.

Despite the potential for three Fine Gael seats in Mayo, there are a number of findings in the poll that will cause concern for the party, and in particular Mr Kenny.

Between the three candidates they command a massive 56pc of first preferences - but their support is lowest among the farming community.

They are relying heavily on what would be considered well-off voters, a badge that Fine Gael has tried to shake.

And one in four voters believes that if re-elected to lead the next government, Mr Kenny should only stay on as Taoiseach for one year.

In total, 54pc believe he should hand over the reins within three years, compared with 26pc who back the Castlebar man to stay in power for a full five-year term.

Almost half of voters are satisfied with the Government's performance but again they have been struggling to impress farmers and young people.

And while 54pc said they were satisfied with Mr Kenny's work as Taoiseach, they rated Mr Ring as a far more effective TD. One in two people polled said the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport was the county's best public representative.

Mr Ring's appeal is cross party - with 31pc of Fianna Fáil supporters and 41pc of Sinn Féin supporters saying he was the outstanding performer over the past five years.

Mr Calleary came second on 12pc, with Mr Kenny in third on 11pc.

When asked who was the least effective TD in Mayo, almost one in four singled out Mr Kenny for criticism.

He rated worse than Mr O'Mahony, who is no longer seeking votes in the constituency.

The biggest issue for voters in Mayo is the health service.

The state of local hospitals will be the main factor influencing 40pc of voters in Mayo, compared to just 15pc who said the economy was their priority.

The need to lower the unemployment rate was the third most important issue on 14pc, followed by crime on 8pc.

Just 4pc of Mayo voters cited water charges as something that would affect their decision.

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin is considered to be a good party leader by 43pc of voters, with the Labour Party's Joan Burton on 33pc and Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams on 25pc.

The least popular party leader is Renua Ireland's Lucinda Creighton (23pc), who is a native of Claremorris.

Irish Independent

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