Thursday 22 March 2018

FG has Creighton's Dáil seat firmly in its sights

Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Lucinda Creighton. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael has former junior minister Lucinda Creighton's Dáil seat in their sights, a new poll for the Irish Independent can reveal.

The Renua Ireland leader is proving a polarising figure in Dublin Bay South and is at risk of being one of the most high-profile casualties of the General Election.

She is set to be dragged into a do-or-die battle with three other candidates, including Fine Gael's Kate O'Connell, for the final two seats in the constituency.

The Millward Brown poll also suggests that the Green Party's Eamon Ryan is not in the reckoning for a return to Leinster House.

It shows that Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy is leading the race on 20pc, followed by former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews (17pc), who is now running for Sinn Féin.

Ms Creighton is then on 13pc alongside Labour Party minister Kevin Humphreys, while Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan is on 11pc and Ms O'Connell is on 10pc.

The poll involved face-to-face interviews with 498 voters at 46 sampling points between February 12-16. The results suggest that the constituency will be one of the most difficult in the country to call.

Fine Gael has been pumping resources into Ms O'Connell's campaign in an effort to unseat Ms Creighton, who quit the party after voting against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013.

In 2011, Fine Gael and Labour secured all four seats in the constituency which was then known as Dublin South East.

Ms Creighton topped the poll and helped bring Mr Murphy across the line in what was seen as a major coup for Fine Gael.

However, the landscape has changed dramatically with the retirement of Labour's Ruairi Quinn, the defection of Mr Andrews to Sinn Féin and the addition of first-time councillor Kate O'Connell to the FG ticket.

Ms Creighton's biggest challenge is that she appears transfer-toxic when compared to O'Connell, Humphreys and O'Callaghan.

Just 6pc of voters say they will give their second preference to the Renua leader. This compares with 19pc who would transfer to Ms O'Connell, 15pc to Mr Humphreys and 10pc to Mr O'Callaghan.

Only 5pc of Fine Gael voters would give a preference to Ms Creighton, compared with 15pc of Fianna Fáil voters who would vote number two for Renua.

The votes of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan are likely to prove decisive.

On 7pc of number one votes, he is unlikely to feature in a major way - but his votes could decide who gets the final seat.

The majority of constituents do believe that Ms Creighton was the most effective TD in Dublin Bay South over the past five years. One in five rated her as the best performer, followed by Mr Humphreys, Mr Murphy and Mr Quinn, all on 14pc.

Almost one-in-four voters (24pc) said the state of the health service would be their number one consideration when voting. Another 21pc said management of the economy was their key issue, followed by 16pc who cited the homelessness situation and lack of local authority housing.

A massive 41pc said they trusted Fine Gael most when it came to the economy, compared to just 6pc for their coalition partners Labour. Just 12pc said they would trust Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil on the same issue.

Sinn Féin will be pleased with the 17pc achieved by Mr Andrews - however, the poll was carried about before the family of murder victim Joseph Rafferty branded him a "hypocrite" for joining the party.

Mr Andrews had previously worked closely with the Rafferty family and with gardaí to help find the young man's killer, who is believed to be a member of the Provisional IRA.

Irish Independent

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