Peter Casey at risk of being a one-hit wonder as he is locked in battle with Fianna Fail for MEP seat - latest poll
PRESIDENTIAL runner-up Peter Casey is locked in a battle with Fianna Fáil for a MEP seat in the Midlands-North West constituency.
Mr Casey is ahead of both of Micheál Martin’s candidates in a part of the country that could be considered Fianna Fáil’s heartland. The party has targeted taking a seat in all three European constituencies.
The latest opinion poll will also provide some uncomfortable reading for Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who is putting forward the same team as five years ago.
Their vote looks set to drop across the board and her Dublin star, Lynn Boylan, could be dragged into a battle for transfers with a string of other left-wing candidates.
Meanwhile, despite recent controversies Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be very happy that Fine Gael are on course to retain its four seats and even have a chance of getting ex-Rose Tralee Mairia Walsh into connection for an extra one.
Two big stories are emerging based on the polling data. Firstly, presidential runner-up Peter Casey is at risk of being a one-hit wonder.
He gained 23pc of the vote in last October’s presidential election but is now sitting on just 9pc in the massive Midlands-North West constituency.
Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness is coming out a clear winner in the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll on 26pc.
She is followed by Eurosceptic Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan on 16pc, while Sinn Féin Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy is on 14 per cent. All three would appear safe.
That leaves a contest for the fourth seat between Mairia Walsh (11pc), Peter Casey (9p) and Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith (8pc) and Anne Rabbitte (5pc).
Fianna Fáil missed out on a seat in this constituency last time by splitting their vote and now risk doing the same again. Fine Gael is likely to see an opportunity to reduce Ms McGuinness’s vote in order to boost her runner mate.
In the capital, Barry Andrews is on 18pc and second in the running behind former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald on 22pc.
But the real story emerging from the research is the st of left-wing candidates are locked in a battle to take the final European seat in Dublin, including Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan who topped five years ago.
Ms Boylan is on 13pc but may not be as transfer-friendly as her rivals Independents4Change Clare Daly (10pc), the Green Party’s Ciarán Cuffe (9pc) and Labour’s Alex White (8pc).
Being dragged into a struggle to hold a seat in Dublin would be a major embarrassment for the leadership of Mary Lou McDonald who led a very poor presidential campaign last year.
The fourth placed candidate will also be put into ‘cold storage’, meaning they will become an MEP whenever UK representatives leave the parliament.
In Ireland South, Sinn Féin’s presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada’s support looks to be well down on 2014 European performance – but at 14pc she should will retain her seat.
Fine Gael’s sitting MEP Sean Kelly is on his way to topping the poll with 18pc. His running mates Deirdre Clune and Andrew Doyle are on 10pc and 8pc respectively, meaning one of them should get across the line on transfers.
Fianna Fáil also has enough vote share to secure at least a seat for Cork TD Billy Kelleher who is on 13pc. His running mate, Cllr Malcolm Byrne from Wexford, is on 10pc and could feature until the end.
Ireland South will elect four MEPs while the fifth placed candidate goes into cold storage.
Byrne will be in the hunt for that position against Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace (9pc). On 5pc each Labour’s Sheila Nunan and the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan seem too far adrift.