Looking to that Meath East By Election February 1, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
In the next few months all eyes will be on the by-election in Meath East caused by the untimely passing of Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee.
Going from 2011 you’d be hard pressed to see beyond a Fine Gael Victory as they polled over 40% of the vote with Labour in second at 21.04% , Fianna Fail in third at 19.61% and Sinn Fein back in fourth with 8.88%…… however to win Fine Gael will need to get their candidate selection correct.
I know that is stating the obvious but in their previous two outings the Dublin West By-Election and the Presidential Election they fielded ‘poor’ candidates and the party vote was far lower than it was in the opinion polls. … and Fine Gael are currently sliding in them.
Fine Gael are in somewhat of a quandary over candidate selection. It was hoped that Mairead McGuinness would want to swap Europe for the Dail but ‘sources close to her’ ruled that out last week. You can understand why, she is in Europe with a decent chance of reelection. It may well be a stressful life but I’m sure the stress of dealing with irate Dail constituents in the current climate is less than appealing. Then looking forward to the next General Election, she may have wondered if there were 2 FG seats in Meath East?
So Fine Gael will have to look elsewhere, names popping up at the minute are Catherine Yore and former PD Sirena Campbell, although there may well be someone with Meath football connections being courted in the wings.
Turnout will also have a big bearing on the result and politics isn’t everyones cup of tea at the minute. I’d hazard that they could struggle to beat the 41.46% turnout in the 2005 Meath By-Election.
Poor turnout will mean a smaller share of the vote for Fine Gael and of course Labour, I also think it will help Fianna Fail.
Fianna Fail have an established candidate in former TD Thomas Byrne. He still has a fairly prominent role appearing regularly on both television and radio. The FF vote here the last time was also hit by an FF Independent Sharon Keogan,who polled over 1000 votes.
The current furore over crime and Garda station closures is meat and drink to Fianna Fail , there may well be logic behind the closures but emotionally its quite a charged issue, especially with older voters…. older voters being the ones more likely to vote. Ditto the issue of Navan Hospital.
In the analysis of last weeks Red C poll , considering the damage done by Fianna Fail led governments, they wondered what the ceiling to FFs vote was? ….just as we wondered for a few years how low FF could go, what their core vote was… In the end it was lower than most of us could have dreamt of.
Still slowly, if the polls are correct voters are slipping back to FF and as mentioned before the Garda Station closures and perceived crimewave will do FF no harm at all.
Not forgetting their opposition to the Property Tax.
Already we’ve learnt that Seamus McDonagh of The Workers Party will be standing, moving from Meath West where he stood in 2011. Backing from CAHWT may get him some extra votes but hardly enough to make an impression, especially with Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein both opposing the Property Tax.
Beyond that other candidates aren’t so clear.
With Dominic Hannigan already in situ, Labour have two councillors in Meath both of whom would be in Meath East, Niamh McGowan and Eoin Holmes.Holmles was originally co-opted onto the council to replace Dominic Hannigan before being elected in his own right in 2009. It may be either of them but whoever the Labour candidate is , the most realistic aim will be to try and come ahead of Sinn Fein and that doesn’t look likely. They’ll be lucky to get 10% of the vote.
Sinn Fein more than likely will run former Councillor Michael Gallagher who ran in 2011. Hospitals, cutbacks, property tax, indeed Austerity itself will all be part of the Sinn Fein campaign. If the opinion polls are correct, I’d expect them to poll anywhere between 15 and 20% of the vote.
Dunshaughlin based Independent Councillor Joe Bonner who polled 2,479 votes in 2011, could poll well again and with a polarized electorate could be well positioned to pick up transfers.
Another possibility is a Pro Life Independent running (I’m unaware of Joe Bonner stance on this issue) with the aim of disrupting the Fine Gael vote.
It being a by-election I’m sure plenty of other candidates will emerge in time.
At this juncture I’ve a feeling FF could win it…….