Saturday 24 March 2018

Labour and FF in desperate fight for last EU seat

Result crucial for positions of Gilmore and Martin

Micheal Martin and Eamon Gilmore are facing into a tough election.
Micheal Martin and Eamon Gilmore are facing into a tough election.
Taoiseach, Enda Kenny with local candidate Linda O'Shea Farren at the Fine Gael's final press conference of the Local, European and Bye-election campaigns
Junior Minister Brian Hayes, the Fine Gael Dublin candidate in the European elections, holds up one of his posters (left), and a poster of himself as a 24-year-old when he contested the May 1994 Dublin South-Central by-election
CONTENDER: SF candidate Lynn Boylan: Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin are in a fight to the death for the final MEP seat in Dublin – with their leadership futures hanging on the outcome.

Labour is trying to steal Fine Gael votes in its coalition partner's heartland on the southside of Dublin in a desperate bid to get sitting MEP Emer Costello across the line.

Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan and Fine Gael's Brian Hayes are battling it out to top the poll in Dublin. Both are expected to be elected, leaving just one seat free.

An opinion poll commissioned by a political party is understood to show the last seat in the capital is between Fianna Fail's Mary Fitzpatrick and Ms Costello.

However, a number of polls have shown the Green Party's Eamon Ryan and Independent Nessa Childers also in the hunt.

The result is vital for Mr Gilmore and Mr Martin as winning a Dublin seat would be pivotal to how their party's campaign is viewed.

Mr Gilmore's position will come under increasing pressure if Labour fails to win any seat in Europe, while Mr Martin needs to show that the party is making progress in Dublin.

Failing to win the seat will be a major blow to their respective leaderships.

Labour is now dropping 30,000 leaflets, appealing to Fine Gael voters to back their candidate as Mr Hayes doesn't need the votes.

"My coalition colleague, Brian Hayes, is topping the poll and is clearly going to be elected.

"For the last seat you can, on the one hand, elect one of those parties – Fianna Fail and the Green Party – who caused the economic crisis. Or you can vote for me, working in Europe to fix our economy, create jobs, and build recovery," Ms Costello's leaflet says.

The leaflet is being distributed to 30,000 houses in selected suburbs of south Dublin where there is a strong Fine Gael vote, described by a Labour source as "true blue" areas.

"All the polls are showing something similar. It's down between us and Fianna Fail," a party source said.


But Fine Gael is not aware of the leaflet and is unlikely to take kindly to the suggestion that Mr Hayes is already safely across the line.

The results of the polls make it too tight to call. Fianna Fail is also making a final push to secure the seat.

Party strategists believe Ms Fitzpatrick has performed reasonably well in the TV debates and that her opponents have struggled.

"Hayes and Boylan will be ahead but we feel she was the clear winner from the chasing pack in the TV debates," a party source said.

Fianna Fail believes Mr Ryan is not out of the hunt.

Party canvassers are giving out joint canvassing cards featuring Ms Fitzpatrick and the local candidates.

Fianna Fail director of elections Timmy Dooley has issued a final request to party members out knocking on doors to also mention their European candidate's name.

Irish Independent

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