Monday 26 September 2016

Exclusive: Poll reveals Eamon Gilmore on course to hold seat before stepping down

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 15/07/2015 | 22:59

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore

Former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore was likely to comfortably hold onto his seat in Dún Laoghaire had he not decided to step down, an internal poll has shown.

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The Fianna Fáil poll, seen by Independent.ie, shows Mr Gilmore on course to take the second seat behind Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

The poll was conducted on May 22 - less than a fortnight before the ex-minister announced that he will not be contesting the upcoming election.

Mr Gilmore came in second place on first preference votes (17.4pc) according to the poll, ahead of People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett (16.7pc).

According to the findings, Ms Mitchell O'Connor (18.3pc) is likely to top the poll with Fine Gael possibly on course to take a second seat.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Maria Bailey, who recorded 14.5pc in the poll, is tipped to be added to the ticket by the party.

This is despite the fact Ms Bailey was defeated into third place at the party's selection convention by councillor Barry Ward.

But Labour may rue the decision by Mr Gilmore to step down - a move that has also been taken by his former cabinet colleagues Pat Rabbitte and Ruairí Quinn.

He said last month that he had been in public life for 30 years and that it is time to step down at the next election.

Mr Gilmore quit as party in March of last year after a disastrous local and European elections elections which saw his party haemorrhage dozens of seats.

Read more: Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore announces he will not run in next General Election

In what was a dramatic few days for the party, it emerged that an internal faction of TDs and senators had been plotting to oust Mr Gilmore as leader.

Party sources say he never got over the actions of the group, known as the 'gang-of-eight'.

The party's selection convention, which is due to take place tonight, will be contested by Senator Aideen Hayden, councillors Deirdre Kingston and Carrie Smyth and party activist David Traynor.

Ms Smyth, who is based in Killiney, is the favourite to win the convention.

Meanwhile, the poll - which was conducted at 12 count centres on referendum day - shows Fianna Fáil is facing an uphill battle to win a seat.

Councillor Cormac Devlin recorded 9.3pc in the poll, ahead of former minister and council colleague Mary Hanafin (7.1pc).

The poll will prove disappointing for Ms Hanafin, who has previously said that the party must only field one candidate in the General Election.

The Fianna Fáil selection convention, which has yet to be scheduled, is also being contested by councillors Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe.

Party sources are adamant that Mr Devlin has the necessary support to win the convention.

Despite the poll ratings for Mr Devlin and Ms Hanafin, Fianna Fáil figures believe they have a slim chance in taking the third seat.

It's expected that the party will focus on targeting Mr Gilmore's vote as an electoral strategy.

A decison must be made whether to add a second candidate to the ticket in Dún Laoghaire, particualrly given the fact Fianna Fáil is struggling to meet the gender quota targets.

The Dún Laoghaire constituency has been reduced to a three-seater due to the presence of Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

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