Midlands North-West: Battle for the last of four seats will be intense
None of the candidates has a quota on the first count
Fianna Fáil’s Pat the Cope Gallagher, who is on 12 per cent, will certainly be in contention. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The Midlands North-West constituency is the most difficult of all to call on the basis of the poll results.
None of the candidates has a quota on the first count but Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness, on 18 per cent, is close to it and appears to be sure of retaining her seat.
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy is next, on 15 per cent. Like the other Sinn Féin candidates he has difficulty in attracting significant transfers but he will probably have enough support to get elected.
Fianna Fáil also appears to be in a strong position to win a seat. Pat the Cope Gallagher, who is on 12 per cent, will certainly be in contention, but he cannot afford much slippage.
His running mate, Thomas Byrne, is on 8 per cent and if there is a reasonable transfer then Gallagher will make it.
However, as in the South constituency, regional factors are set to play a major part in the transfer pattern and just about a quarter of Byrne’s number twos look like going to his running mate.
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That could leave Gallagher struggling as the count goes on so he will need to increase his first preference vote to be sure of holding his seat.
This is where the strong support he is attracting in the farming community and from better off voters could prove vital.
The battle for the final seat will be intense. Luke Ming Flanagan on 12 per cent looks to be in a stronger position than sitting Independent Marian Harkin on 10 per cent, but any change in their relative standings would change the picture.
It would also be unsafe to entirely rule out sitting MEP Jim Higgins of Fine Gael, who is on 9 per cent. If he can manage to get a little more than that on the first count he could move up the field with the help of transfers from candidates being eliminated.
Labour’s Lorraine Higgins is on a creditable 8 per cent of first preference votes and her transfers will play a vital part in determining who is going to be elected.
The poll indicates that she is transferring strongly to McGuinness and if those transfers carry on to Higgins as next Government candidate in the field it could have an impact on the outcome.
Ronan Mullen is struggling on 4 per cent, followed by Mark Dearey of the Greens but again their transfers could be significant in determining the order of eliminations higher up the scale which in turn will have a bearing on the outcome.
The demographic base of the support for the various candidates will also be crucial. If Sinn Féin’s working class voters do not turn out in significant numbers Carthy could slip a couple of points from the 15 per cent shown in the poll.
If that happens he could be caught and overtaken by some of the chasing pack and Harkin and Flanagan could both be elected or Jim Higgins could slip into contention.
It promises to be a long count.