Hayes calls for Fine Gael transfers to Labour
Minister wants second preferences to be used against Sinn Fein
JUNIOR Finance Minister Brian Hayes is urging Fine Gael voters to give their second-preference votes to the party's beleaguered coalition partner Labour in a bid to combat Sinn Fein in the European elections.
Mr Hayes, who is the sole Fine Gael MEP candidate in the Dublin constituency and is seen as the frontrunner to take a seat, said it "makes sense" that his supporters would transfer to Labour's Emer Costello.
His comments came as several party opinion polls show that Sinn Fein could return as many as three MEPs on May 23.
Mr Hayes told the Sunday Independent: "It makes sense for FG to transfer to Labour. We are in Government with them and we have achieved a lot. It is a strong partnership, so of course it makes sense for us to transfer to them after the FG candidates."
The OPW minister of state hit out at Sinn Fein's "opportunistic brand of oppositionist" politics but admitted that the party could do well in the upcoming elections.
Mr Hayes has been a strong advocate of consensus between the coalition parties, driven by his good working relationship with Labour's Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.
In Dublin, Ms Costello is fighting an uphill battle to retain the seat she assumed on the retirement of Proinsias De Rossa in 2012 and Mr Hayes comments will be welcome, given the Labour Party's continued slump in the polls.
Despite Mr Hayes's comments, there is no official transfer pact agreed between the coalition parties.
The rise of Sinn Fein was reflected in a new internal Fianna Fail poll, which shows the party on course to take a seat in the Ireland South constituency.
Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael all look set to take one seat in the Ireland south constituency, the new internal party poll reveals.
It also shows that sitting Fine Gael senator Deirdre Clune is best placed to take the final seat at this stage.
Given that this is an internal party poll, it comes with a certain health warning but the figures contained in the poll are largely consistent with other party polls.
This new poll shows sitting MEP Brian Crowley will most likely top the poll, on 27 per cent of first-preference
votes, with a clear lead over his next-nearest rival.
Given that it is a four-seater, Mr Crowley looks set to get more than the quota required to be elected, which means that his surplus will be transferred.
Former GAA president turned Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly will most likely take the second seat.
On 12 per cent, Mr Kelly is behind the Sinn Fein candidate, Liadh Ni Riada, on first-preference votes. She is on 13 per cent, but Mr Kelly's transfer friendliness will see him home in second place, with Ms Ni Riada taking the third.
"The Shinners are very strong and will do well, not just in Ireland South. Based on this poll they will take a seat here comfortably," one source told the Sunday Independent.