Wednesday 13 December 2017

Martin facing a Euro nightmare in battle for votes

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

THE Midlands-North-West constituency looks set to produce a nightmare result for Fianna Fail and its leader Micheal Martin.

The party has at best a fighting chance of securing the final seat in a constituency that may send two independent candidates to the European parliament.

Fianna Fail's strategy of imposing prominent senator Thomas Byrne on the established MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher was a gamble that hasn't paid off.

The move has instead created the real prospect of both candidates being squeezed and Fianna Fail being left with no MEP in the sprawling constituency.

Mr Byrne is now sitting on just 9pc support, down from 16pc, and will remain in the Seanad unless he ups his game in the coming days.

Mr Gallagher has made ground over the past three weeks and is sitting on 10pc support. Significantly, the Donegal politician is transfer-friendly which could prove crucial in the likely dogfight with his colleague Marian Harkin.

But Ms Harkin is polling stronger on first and second preferences. On the basis of these figures, she may be the candidate who takes the fourth and final seat and spells an end to the political career of Mr Gallagher.

For Mr Martin that could spell the end of his difficult leadership of Fianna Fail.

These results illustrate that Mr Martin's position as leader could very well depend on Mary Fitzpatrick securing a seat in the capital.

But Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher is not the only sitting MEP facing the prospect of losing his seat in the constituency.

The ongoing contest in Fine Gael appears to have produced a result – in favour of party golden girl Mairead McGuinness.

Ms McGuinness is comfortably ahead of her running mate Jim Higgins and looks well-placed to take a seat.

The star of the show in this constituency is set to be Sinn Fein young gun Matt Carthy. The councillor's support has increased over the past three weeks despite the arrest of party leader Gerry Adams.

Mr Carthy has recorded 19pc support. Although he fairs poorly on second preferences, he is in strong contention to top the poll.

Following the Sinn Fein candidate to Europe looks set to be Independent candidate Luke 'Ming' Flanagan whose strong vote is a clear indication of the shift of support to the independents in these elections.

Irish Independent

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