News Elections

Saturday 21 April 2018

Comment No escaping Hayes' role in 'Houdini act'

John Downing

John Downing

ON the one hand, Fine Gael will hope the 'Houdini act' of retaining the four Euro seats it won in 2009 can actually happen.

But on the other hand it is not too pleased to find its most highly prized candidate, Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes, is seen to be struggling in Dublin.

That is a thumbnail sketch of the FG party's reaction to the weekend Irish Independent/ Millward Brown opinion polls of recent days.

Returning with four MEPs – in the face of an overall reduction from 12 to 11 MEPs and an anti-government backlash – would be some feat.

It is clear the party has one seat in the newly revamped four-seat South constituency which takes in Munster and four Leinster counties.

But with a quota of 20pc, and a total of 31pc split between the three FG candidates, a second seat is possible.

One FG strategist expressed the hope that this poll finding would be a wake-up call to all three – outgoing MEP Sean Kelly (12pc), Senator Deirdre Clune (12pc) and Simon Harris (7pc).

In the crazy 15-county constituency of Midlands-North-West, FG has a total of 22pc, with its two outgoing MEPs Jim Higgins of Mayo and Mairead McGuinness of Louth, each on 11pc.

Here FG knows there should be a seat – but it appears to be a choice between one or the other.

In three-seat Dublin, Brian Hayes is placed third on 15pc – which is 10pc short of the quota.

He has three other candidates snapping at his heels – Mary Fitzpatrick of Fianna Fail (13pc), Emer Costello of Labour (12pc) and Eamon Ryan of the Green Party (11pc).

It appears that Fine Gael would win two seats on a bad day, and four on a very good day. Either way, it is not such a bad prognosis for the party.

Irish Independent

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