Election Blog 8 – Straight Talking To The End
This is the column I was not looking forward to writing because when you make predictions it is always there in black and white for people to look back on! Looking at the national picture, there are afew very interesting trends emerging as we look ahead to Saturday’s poll. Fine Gael are in a bit of trouble, and are set to lose seats, and Fianna Fail are set to gain some and look certain to become the biggest party.
But it is clear that there is a surge in support for Sinn Fein and that young people in particular are going to vote for them in huge numbers. The legacy issues that many people in older generations would have with Sinn Fein are not a factor with younger people who want a change from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.There is sure to be a big increase in support for the Greens and they will make significant gains. What that all means in terms of any possible Government formation after the election is anyone’s guess.
Will FF and FG join together to keep Sinn Fein out of Government? Will either or both big parties go back on their word and deal with Mary Lou? Would FF, The Greens, Labour and a few others have enough to form a coalition? All those questions and many more will be answered after Saturday.
I am making the following prediction for the various parties. I have put their 2016 figures in brackets. There are 160 seats this time, 159 and the Ceann Comhlairle.
Fianna Fail 55 (44), Fine Gael 43 (50), Sinn Fein 27 (23), Labour 6 (7), Greens 8 (2), AAA/PPP 5 (6), Independents 15 (19).
Locally it looks like Michael Fitzmaurice and Dennis Naughten will be re-elected with a huge battle now likely for the final seat. Fitzmaurice looks like he will head the poll. He has been a very prominent performer at local and national level over the past four years and the addition of an extra area in East Galway will be a help to him too. Dennis Naughten will probably drop votes, but he can afford to, and he will still be elected.
The battle for the final seat is going to be very interesting. Most people are saying it is a battle between Orla Leyden and Eugene Murphy, but my information is that Claire Kerrane is doing well and she could even double her vote from the last election (3,075). Aisling Dolan is also going to poll well, but her late entry into the race may well cost her in the end. She is not well enough known to take a seat.
It would almost be inconceivable that there would not be a Fianna Fail seat in this constituency and both the candidates look very strong. It is always very hard to unseat a sitting TD but on this occasion Eugene Murphy has a fight on his hands. I am going to go against the conventional wisdom and predict that Murphy will hang on by his finger nails. It will come down to transfers.
On the People this week I said that the same TD’s had never been returned in Roscommon but I was wrong. In 1982 and 1987 Sean Doherty, Terry Leyden and Liam Naughten retained their seats. I should have known not to listen to Philip Boucher Hayes and Barry Lenihan!!! (I should have have looked it up)
So my local prediction is Fitzmaurice, Naughten and Murphy with Leyden just missing out and a huge performance on the the way from Kerrane.