FF Cork vote collapses - poll


The Fianna Fáil vote in Cork North Central has collapsed despite the election of Micheál Martin as party leader, according to an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI constituency poll.

The poll, conducted using a sample ballot paper, shows the solitary Fianna Fáil candidate, Minister of State Billy Kelleher, in danger of losing his seat.

Fianna Fáil won two seats in this predominantly working class constituency with 35 per cent of the vote at the last election. Support for the party has plummeted to just 13 per cent in the poll and the party could end up without a seat.

Outgoing TD Noel O’Flynn stood down at the start of the election campaign at the request of the new party leader in an effort to save one seat for the party, but the tactic may not be enough.

The Labour Party vote has more than doubled since 2007, with outgoing TD Kathleen Lynch topping the poll, but the party is well short of two quotas and her running mate John Gilroy is unlikely to make it.

The Fine Gael vote has dropped with the departure of long-serving TD Bernard Allen but the party’s two candidates, Pat Burton and Dara Murphy, have more than a quota between them and one should win a seat with relative comfort.

The big gainers in the poll are Sinn Féin, whose candidate Jonathan O’Brien is in a strong position to win a seat, having doubled his level of support since the last election.

Socialist Party candidate Mick Barry is also in with a fighting chance of making it to the Dáil, coming neck and neck with Mr Kelleher on the first count and having the potential to pull ahead on transfers.

The survey was conducted last Thursday and Friday in 500 in-home interviews with voters given sample ballot papers. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 per cent.

About 70 per cent of those polled marked the ballot paper; the other 30 per cent returned blank papers.

There are 15 candidates standing in the four-seat constituency, an increase of two over the last election.

Five non-party candidates received 1 per cent of the vote or less, as did Christian Solidarity Party candidate Harry Rea.

Ted Tynan of the Workers’ Party received 4 per cent support and his transfer could be vital in determining whether Mr Barry or Mr Kelleher wins the final seat. Mr Barry should also have the advantage of spare Labour transfers but in Mr Kelleher’s favour is that his support is strongest among older and better-off voters, who are most likely to vote.

The two Fine Gael candidates are bunched very closely together, with the poll giving the advantage to Mr Murphy. There is a strong transfer from one to the other, so whoever is ahead on polling day should be elected without too much difficulty.