Outspoken Kerry Independent TD Danny Healy Rae is at risk of losing his Dáil seat to the Green Party, a new survey has revealed.
In May 2016 Danny Healy Rae told the Dáil “God controls the weather” in a debate where he rejected the threat of climate change. The Green Party has based much of its campaign on the threat of climate change pointing up coastal erosion in parts of Kerry.
The Ipsos MRBI poll for TG4 television also shows that the Sinn Féin candidate, Pa Daly, is benefitting from the national boost to party fortunes and likely to take a seat in the first count. At the campaign outset party strategists feared they could not hold the seat of Martin Ferris who is retiring.
The survey of five-seat Kerry also reveals that Michael Healy Rae is set to be elected on count number one. But he is put on a 20pc share of the first preference vote – down six points from his 2016 performance.
In February 2016 the Healy Rae brothers had a combined first preference of 38pc. That is now pared back to 24pc a ranking still comparable with the combined haul of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Danny Healy Rae, who joined Michael at Leinster House last time in the February 2016 general election is rated on just 4pc. That’s down from 13pc in 2016 and he could ironically be left fighting it out for the last seat with a host of others, including the Green Party contender.
The Green Party candidate, Cleo Murphy, who comes from Kenmare close to the Healy Rae base in Kilgarvan, is put on 9pc and could attract transfers across the spectrum. She is a former Radio Kerry journalist and a well known campaigner.
Minister of State, Brendan Griffin of Fine Gael, looks set to be elected early as he is put on 17pc of the vote. He also has the cushion of a 6pc rating given the Fine Gael other candidate, Mike Kennelly of Listowel, who is a member of the well known footballing family.
Fianna Fáil also look set to win a seat. But there could be a change of personnel as Tralee-based Norma Foley on 10pc, is fractionally ahead of John Brassil of Ballheigue ranked on 9pc. The third Fianna Fáil candidate Norma Moriarty of Waterville is ranked on 4pc and her transfers could decide which of her colleagues wins through.
Political observers in Kerry expect the Healy Rae machine to crank up a bit in these final days in efforts to boost Danny Healy Rae’s vote. His brother Michael will have a considerable surplus which will undoubtedly help but their efforts to divide the constituency on north-south lines has proved difficult.
This is only the second election in which Kerry is a unitary five-seat constituency as it was previously divided into two three-seaters. It is the first election since the 1930s that Labour do not have a candidate and it was dominated for years by the Spring family with Dan Spring first taking a seat in 1943.
The poll for TG4 was a sample of 538 adults interviewed last Saturday and Sunday. The margin of error is put at 4pc.