BEING billed as a red hot favourite in the Ireland East constituency is 'slightly unnerving' says MEP Mairead McGuinness who is seeking re-election on June 5th.
'When I see any of this coverage it just reminds me that there is no room for complacency,' says the Ardee native, as her sweeping campaign focused on a village in Louth last week.
Running for election for the second time is 'somewhat different' admits Mairead as she feels voters are more familiar with her.
'What strikes me most is that the mood of the country is so different now than it was in 2004. Obviously the economic situation has changed so drastically, and it has affected everyone.
'I would say also that voters are much more savvy about what's going on at European level, they know now that a lot of changes at local level emanate from EU directives.'
Confident, she says, that people realise she has been 'working just as hard at home as in Europe', Mairead points out that she has loved her work as an MEP.
'I love that the work I do has an impact locally, and I've made great links with many local groups and individuals across Louth during the last five years.'
She added that another major change since the last election is the quieter streets in towns and villages across the constituency.
'I remember that I was able to go out and meet lots of shoppers, and it was a great way to chat with people, but it's really obvious, especially along the border that people are not shopping locally, and that is worrying.'
Reserving judgement on whether the decision by Tesco to cut prices would bring shoppers back, Mairead said there were real concerns about the impact on farmers and other producers as to where the supermarket giant were sourcing their goods.
'Overall on the campaign I've covered so many issues, and I know that people who might vote for me this time are voting for very different reasons than they did in 2004.'