Fitzpatrick on course to take second seat for Fine Gael

LOUTH manager Peter Fitzpatrick is on course to take a seat in Friday’s General Election, according to the outcome of The Dundalk Democrat’s exclusive opinion poll.

LOUTH manager Peter Fitzpatrick is on course to take a seat in Friday’s General Election, according to the outcome of The Dundalk Democrat’s exclusive opinion poll.

The poll – conducted between Monday and Friday of last week by non-staff members of the newspaper who are completely independent of any candidate or party in the running – took in the opinions of 228 people throughout the constituency from as far south as East Meath to as far north as Omeath.

It has thrown up some interesting results, the most notable of which suggests that Fitzpatrick will take a second seat for Fine Gael, with his running mate Fergus O’Dowd (27pc) the clear favourite to top the poll, ahead of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (22pc).

If that result comes to pass when the votes are counted on Saturday then it would be the first time in 57 years that Fine Gael have taken two seats in this constituency. On that occasion in 1954, George Coburn – son of deceased TD James – topped the poll with his running mate Paddy Donegan taking the third and final seat just behind Fianna Fáil’s Frank Aiken.

Were Fine Gael to take two seats in Louth this time around then it would be a massive boost to the party’s bid for an overall majority and for Fitzpatrick it would be the first time that a General Election debutant has been elected since Dermot Ahern in 1987. Ironically, Ahern – who announced his decision not to contest this election last November – also took the third seat on that occasion.

What is clear from the poll is that O’Dowd and Adams are almost certain to take a seat. The vast majority of Fitzpatrick’s vote (14pc) came from the south of the constituency rather than his home town area of Dundalk, suggesting also that Fine Gael’s vote management strategy is working.

Labour’s Ged Nash (9pc) is tipped to take the fourth and final seat but a major battle for that seat is expected with the Fianna Fáil duo of Declan Breathnach (8pc) and James Carroll (6pc) hot on his heels and Mary Moran (4pc) and Mark Dearey (4pc) also not far behind.

What could prove a telling factor in Friday’s election, however, is that 36% of people say they are undecided and depending on where the bulk of those votes go it could prove crucial to the eventual outcome.

Another major factor could be where transfers go, particularly the returns of Gerry Adams which are the most unpredictable of all to predict.

Either way it promises to be a closely fought election with no one able to take anything for granted between now and polling day on Friday.