Thursday 27 November 2014

Poll shows young blood bringing fresh talent to politics

Published 26/04/2014 | 13:00

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is in with a shout for a seat in the European Parliament. Photo: Tom Burke
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is in with a shout for a seat in the European Parliament. Photo: Tom Burke

SINN Fein is poised to win its first European Parliament seats outside of Dublin as the party is polling extremely strongly in both the Ireland South and Midlands-North-West constituencies.

Fine Gael has a chance of retaining three seats in the two constituencies, although only either Mairead McGuinness or Jim Higgins appears likely to survive. Fianna Fail will be happy with its performance in these two constituencies, where it is likely to hold what it has.

But Labour faces an election day wipe-out. Outgoing Independent MEP Marian Harkin is in the hunt for a seat but may be pitted against fellow Independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, who is also doing well.

That is a thumbnail sketch of the findings of today's Irish Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll, which examines the prospects of candidates on May 23 in the two newly created constituencies of Ireland South and Midlands-North-West. Between them, they comprise 25 counties of the 26 counties, bar Dublin.

The two Sinn Fein candidates are from a new generation of politicians in the party, who present well in the media and bring different talents to the political arena.

Matt Carthy of Monaghan is tipped as a poll topper in Midlands-North-West, while Liadh Ni Riada, from the West Cork Gaeltacht, looks set to take a seat in South.

Eyebrows were raised when these two and another candidate who is unknown nationally, Lynn Boylan of Dublin, were chosen by Sinn Fein to contest Europe.

Previously in this jurisdiction, the party has only held one Euro seat through Mary-Lou McDonald in Dublin from 2004-2009. But the party brand, with opinion poll ratings consistently on double their February 2011 general election take of 10pc, appears to be carrying them through.

By contrast, this poll offers no consolation for Labour, which is well below half its 2011 rating in most other national opinion polls.

In this case, the party's sitting MEP in South, Phil Prendergast, is on 4pc and is unlikely to be in the running.

In Midlands-North-West, Lorraine Higgins is also struggling on 4pc.

Labour will look to Dublin MEP Emer Costello to spare its blushes. The poll findings will not help coalition tensions on issues like water charges, nor will they ease pressure on the leadership of Eamon Gilmore.

Fine Gael strategists poring over the entrails this morning will be less despondent. They are set to hold two of the three seats they had in the territory which now comprises these two constituencies.

The party also faces intriguing internal contests in both constituencies and they could end up holding all three seats if the ball was to bounce the right way for Fine Gael in the South.

Fianna Fail will have grounds to be happy with the shape of things in these two constituencies. It will be looking hard at hopes of vote management in South in hopes that super poll-topper Brian Crowley might help newcomer Kieran Hartley.

But anyone who has worked on Crowley's four previous barnstorming campaigns will wish FF strategists good luck with that endeavour.

This is the first of a series of opinion polls which will characterise the next four weeks of hard campaigning.

There is a significant number of people still undecided as they have not had an opportunity to get their bearings in this contest. But the findings also put a shape on some tough battles that lie ahead.

Irish Independent

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