My prediction at 5pm: FG 76, LP 36, FF at 24, SF at 12, Ind 13, ULA 4.
Phil Hogan arrived into the RTE radio studio wearing the kind of wide smile that has not been seen since the Cheshire Cat made a cameo appearance in Alice in Wonderland.
When it comes to strategy and campaign (and yes, the dark arts of spin) there are few better in the business than Big Phil. Of course, Phil is a politician, so you also need to subtract a little bit for bluster. But at the same time, when he expresses a view, you listen very carefully to what he says.
Phil said the exit polls and the punditocracy have been too conservative in writing off a Fine Gael majority. His argument? Well, the transfer situation has changed and Fine Gael has not alone attracted first preferences in record numbers but will also be attracting many more second and third preferences than people had predicted. He cited a couple of constituencies where this seat bounce might be evident: Tipperary South; Wexford; and Clare.
However, the big test for his theory will happen in Cork South Central. Deirdre Clune is lying in third place of its candidates in this consituency behind Simon Coveney and Jerry Buttimer. Chris O’Leary of Sinn Fein has been a surprise here. If O’Leary stays behind Clune (and there’s no guarantee that he will), she will have to rely on his votes to help close the gap of (currently of 1,600) between her and Michael McGrath.
I don’t agree with Hogan. At this moment in time I am putting Fine Gael’s maxium at 76, with Labour at 36, Fianna Fail at 24, Sinn Fein at 12, Independents at 13 and the United Left Alliance at 4.
Fianna Fail is a tale of two cities. The first is Dublin and its surrounding areas where it has been destroyed. Only one seat is likely in Dublin, that of Brian Lenihan in Dublin West. In the surrounding counties of Meath, Kildare, Louth and Wicklow, the party will get only one or two seats (Sean O Fearghail in Kildare South and perhaps one of its candidates in Louth).
I have a sense that Fianna Fail may be in the hunt for one or two other seats around the country. The two imponderabeles will be where the Green Party transfers go (will Fianna Fail benefit?) and where the Fianna Fail transfers go (if they trend more towards Labour, as I think they will, Labour’s total may creep up).
But There are a few other independents who may be in with a shout, namely Thomas Pringle in Donegal South West. I’ve just heard the first count and I’m now putting that down as a FF loss.
This is my assessment right now (and of course these predictions are subject to change or may be just plain, plain, plain wrong!!)
Carlow Kilkenny: FF, FG3, LP 1
Cavan Monaghan: FF 1, FG 3, SF 1
Clare: FF 1; FG 2; Lab 1
Cork East: FF 1, FG 2, LP 1
Cork North Central: FF 1, FG 1, LP 1, SF 1
Cork South Central: FF 2, FG2, LP1
Cork South West: FF 1, FG 2
Donegal North East: FF 1, FG 1, SF 1
Donegal South West: FG1, SF 1, Ind 1
Dublin Central: FG1, LP 1, SF 1, Ind 1
Dublin Mid-West: FG 2, LP 2
Dublin North: FG 2, LP1, ULA 1
Dublin North Central: FG 1, LP 1, Ind 1
Dublin North East: FG 1, LP 2
Dublin North West: LP 2, SF 1
Dubin South: FG 3, LP 1, Ind 1
Dublin South Central: FG 1, LP 2, SF 1, ULA 1
Dublin South East: FG 2, LP 2
Dublin South West: FG 1, LP 2, SF 1
Dublin West: FF 1, FG1, LP 1, ULA 1
Dun Laoghaire: FG 2, LP 2
Galway East: FF 1, FG 2, Ind 1
Galway West: FF 1, FG 2, LP 1, Ind 1
Kerry North, Limerick West FG 1, LP 1, SF 1
Kerry South: FG 1, Ind 2
Kildare North: FG 2, LP 1, Ind 1
Kildare South: FF 1, FG 1, LP 1
Laois Offaly: FF 2, FG 2, SF 1
Limerick: FF 1, FG 2
Limerick City: FF 1, FG 2, LP 1
Longford Westmeath: FF 1, FG 2, LP 1
Louth: FF 1, FG 1, LP 1, SF 1
Mayo: FF 1, FG 4
Meath East: FG 2, LP 1
Meath West: FG 2, SF 1
Roscommon- South Leitrim: FG 2, Ind 1
Sligo-North Leitrim: FF 1, FG 2
Tipperary North: FG 1, LP 1, Ind 1
Tipperary South: FG 1, Ind 1, ULA 1
Wexford: FF 1, FG 2, LP 1, Ind 1
Wicklow: FG 3, LP 1, Ind 1.
A few of those constituences are subject to change. Sinn Fein could win another three seats with Eoin O Broin in Dublin Mid West, Larry O’Toole in Dublin North East and Mícheál Colreavy in Sligo-North Leitrim, though I don’t think the latter has the numbers. Nor can you rule out Kathryn Reilly in Cavan-Monaghan
I am perhaps giving Fianna Fail too much credit in Louth, where the vote management will have to be very good between their candidates to stave off the challenge of Fine Gael.
Fianna Failers in Dun Laoghaire are not completely writing off Mary Hanafin. But if she or Marie Corrigan in Dublin South are going to survive they are going to need transfers from others. And as things stand, I can’t see that happening.
As for Wicklow. God, it’s too hard to call.