Fine Gael (2), Fianna Fail (1), Labour (1)
Published 19/01/2016 | 14:20
Fianna Fáil made sure that this constituency got more than its fair share of news coverage late last year as delegates on the Longford fought bitterly over gender quotas.
And the December floods left parts of Athlone and surrounding
Party headquarters declined to allow a vote for who should accompany sitting TD Robert Troy on the ticket and as a result caused massive uproar by giving Connie Gerety-Quinn the nod at the expense of local councillor Seamus Butler or newcomer Pat O’Rourke.
The legacy of the row is that Ms Gerety-Quinn has limited support from her Fianna Fáil colleagues in Longford, leaving Robert Troy will an open field.
He managed to survive the Fianna Fáil culling in 2011 which saw his then running mate former minister Mary O’Rourke voted out.
On that basis there is nothing to suggest that he won’t win through again.
Fine Gael and the Labour Party also have high hopes of getting their sitting TDs re-elected, meaning this could be one constituency that remains unchanged.
There was huge relief within Labour when Willie Penrose finally confirmed before Christmas that he would allow his name to go forward again.
The barrister strongly considered leaving politics after an eventful five years which he started out as a minister before quitting the Labour Party in opposition to a decision to close Columb Barracks in Mullingar. He has since re-joined the party and is considered one of their most popular TDs.
Even if the Labour Party has a meltdown they would still expect Penrose’s huge personal vote to get him back into Leinster House.
Fine Gael won a by-election in Longford-Westmeath in 2014 following the sad death of Nicky McFadden. She was succeeded by her sister Gabrielle, who is likely to find the General Election a more daunting task.
On the ticket next to her will be James Bannon who is a native of Legan in Longford. It’s a good constituency split for the two candidates but their success will be based heavily on transfers.
Sinn Féin’s Paul Hogan managed a healthy 15pc in the by-election but will struggle to make a breakthrough because his party’s toxicity level when it comes to transfers.
An outside bet might be Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran in Athlone, who was once a Fianna Fáil stalwart but is now running as part of the Independent Alliance.
He won great praise for efforts in helping families during the floods and could prove very transfer friendly.
The Alliance is also running James Morgan on the Longford side. He did well in the by-election so can hope to put in another good performance.
Between himself and Moran there is the potential for one seat if Fine Gael don’t meet their own expectations.