Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and sitting T.D., Niall Blaney, could both lose their seats in the General Election, a top political analyst suggested this week.
Highlighting the dwindling support for Fianna Fail, Sean Donnelly claimed the two party representatives in Donegal South-West and Donegal North-East respectively were in grave danger of being ousted when the votes are totted up.
“I seriously reckon both of them could lose their seats,” he told the ‘Democrat’ yesterday.
The Letterkenny native, who is a regular contributor to R.T.E. news programmes, questioned Fianna Fail’s wisdom in opting for both Deputy Coughlan and Senator Brian O’Domhanill to run in the South-West constituency.
“I don’t think it’s wise for them at all to run two candidates. The votes are so low they can’t afford any division in them.”
Mr. Donnelly referred to the increasingly prominent profile enjoyed by Senator O Domhnaill following his candidature in the recent Donegal South-West by-election. “There was a time when Mary Coughlan would have been well ahead but now they’re getting closer and that could be a significant factor this time out. The party could lose out altogether. If the Tanaiste is to stand any chance, she will have to poll more first preferences than her running mate.”
A similar scenario presented itself for Fianna Fail in the North-East constituency with the decision to run two candidates putting, Mr. Donnelly argued, Deputy Blaney’s seat at risk.
“Running two is a very risky strategy and it could backfire given the party’s continuing low show in the opinion polls.
“The votes could be so badly divided that Fianna Fail would need to run one big vote gatherer and a no hoper.”
The political analyst said Fine Gael had made the correct decision in opting to run one candidate in the North-East and South West constituencies. “The same thing could happen to them if they went with a two candidate strategy - they’re better off with one in each constituency.”
Mr. Donnelly said he fully expected Sinn Fein to secure two seats in the respective constituencies following Pearse Doherty’s impressive showing in the by-election. Padraig MacLochlainn would, he predicted, take a seat in Donegal North-East.
The Donegalman also insisted that Labour candidate, Jimmy Harte, could also claim a seat in a county where the party has never come close to putting a candidate into the Dail.
But he dismissed Frank McBrearty’s chances of securing a seat for Labour in the South-West, referring to the “implosion” of votes for the Raphoe based candidate in the November by-election.
That, he said, could be to the benefit of independent candidate, Thomas Pringle, who could win a seat.