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Coalition parties fight for survival in Midlands North West 02.05.14

by Jessie Magee

OPINION polls are known to swing wildly in the run up to any vote, so the most recent survey by the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown could bear no relation to the final outcome of the European elections on May 23. It remains to be seen which way voters will be swayed by unforeseen events, particularly this week’s arrest of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams for questioning about the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
That said, the Sindo poll seems to confirm that the public backlash against the coalition parties is taking its toll on the Government’s EU contenders. In the sprawling constituency of Midlands North West, the four sitting MEPs are in a battle to the death, after not one of them made it into the top two first preference candidates.
Photogenic: Cllr Matt Carthy Election fight: Jim Higgins MEP
Photogenic Sinn Féin Councillor Matt Carthy was the punters’ favourite on 17 per cent, although this prediction came of course before the ignominious arrest of his party leader on Wednesday. Surprisingly close on his heels was Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne with 16 per cent of first preference votes, way ahead of his veteran party colleague, sitting MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher on nine per cent. Gallagher’s fears about having a running mate at the outset of his campaign now seem justified.
In joint third place on 12 per cent were Independents Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and sitting MEP Marian Harkin, showing that not being affiliated to any party seems to be a good thing in this election.
Fine Gael stalwarts and sitting MEPs Jim Higgins and Mairead McGuinness were neck and neck on 11 per cent, confirming that these two are in a serious competition for votes behind the smiling public face of their joint canvassing campaigns.
Labour was always destined for a drubbing, and the party’s only candidate in the constituency, Lorraine Higgins, scored a lowly four per cent. This was even before her party colleague Phil Prendergast MEP’s ill-timed call for Eamon Gilmore’s resignation, which is not likely to win more votes for any Labour hopefuls.
Independents Mark Fitzsimons and Ronan Mullen were tied on three per cent, followed by Green candidate Mark Dearey on two percent. Last in the line was Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy Ireland with one per cent, suggesting that this political unknown is doomed to remain so.
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