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High-profile FF TDs battling to win 'safe seats'

TWO of the country's best-known TDs are fighting for political survival as voters look to take out their frustration on the outgoing government.

Fianna Fail won three seats out of five in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency in 2007, with Fine Gael and the Greens sharing the other two.

But a new poll shows Fianna Fail is only guaranteed one seat this time around, leaving rebel TD John McGuinness (11pc) and Bobby Aylward (10pc) in a bitter fight to cling on.

According to the poll, two seats will go to Fine Gael, one to Fianna Fail, and one to Labour. The final seat remains a five-way fight between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour, Sinn Fein and the Greens.

There is a major shift in Fianna Fail's popularity in both counties despite their two Kilkenny TDs having a high-profile nationally.

Mr McGuinness -- a long-term critic of Brian Cowen's style of leadership -- and Mr Aylward would have previously been seen as holding two "safe seats".

But the latest opinion poll taken in Carlow-Kilkenny, published in this week's 'Kilkenny People' newspaper, shows Fianna Fail has a major battle on its hands if it is to secure the two seats.

And Fianna Fail's replacement candidate in Carlow for retiring TD MJ Nolan, Councillor Jennifer Murnane, has caused disquiet locally after she chose not to run as an Independent.

It is expected that both Fine Gael and the Labour Party would make the gains in the election, coming in at 31pc and 22pc respectively.

Fine Gael, whose sole TD in the constituency is Phil Hogan, was expected to win an extra seat with young hopeful Senator John Paul Phelan.

At present Labour does not have a TD in the constituency but has been pushing Kilkenny's Ann Phelan for election.

Fianna Fail support has slumped from almost 48pc in the last general election to 24pc in the recent poll.

Green Party deputy leader Mary White is at 4pc -- but she insisted she was taking the poll with a "healthy pinch of salt". It remains to be seen if Sinn Fein, who polled at 15pc, will win the final seat in the constituency.

Irish Independent