Saturday 16 December 2017

FG sitting pretty in Ireland South

Sean Kelly MEP, pictured with Enda Kenny recently, has pulled ahead in Ireland South
Sean Kelly MEP, pictured with Enda Kenny recently, has pulled ahead in Ireland South

Fine Gael's strategy in Ireland South of having three strong candidates is paying off, the Irish Independent Millward Brown opinion poll reveals.

The party is in the hunt for two seats with sitting MEP Sean Kelly pulling ahead and the final berth coming down to a battle between Deirdre Clune and Simon Harris.

Over the course of the campaign, Mr Kelly's support has risen to 15pc, giving him a clear lead.

The former GAA president is set to win a seat, along with Fianna Fail's Brian Crowly and Sinn Fein's Liadh Ni Riada.

But Ms Clune's support has dropped to 10pc to leave her neck-and-neck with Mr Harris, whose backing has risen to nine per cent.

Fine Gael's vote management means whichever candidate finishes bottom of the party's ticket will likely elect their running mates.

Mr Kelly and Mr Harris now have the momentum and Ms Clune's Cork base is already crowded with Mr Crowley and Ms Ni Riada.

Ms Clune's election would mean all four of the MEPs in the constituency covering Munster and south Leinster would come from the south-west.

Mr Harris is planning to emphasise the geographical disparity with a poster saying: 'Don't leave the south-east and Leinster without an MEP'.

The weakness of the field in Ireland South leaves the final seat down as an internal battle in Sinn Fein.

Fianna Fail actually has as much support as Fine Gael's, but it is entirely lopsided towards Mr Crowley, who is down four points but still on 32pc.

His running mate, Kieran Hartley, is performing abysmally on two points.

Labour Party MEP Phil Prendergast got a bit of a bounce off her publicity from her attack on Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, but she's still well off the pace.

Despite the rise in support for Independents, none of the non-party candidates are at the races. Anti-bank bailout campaigner Diarmuid O'Flynn's support has fallen away and none of the remainder showed any sign of getting into the game.

Irish Independent

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