There will be a late Fianna Fáil surge in the lead up to next Saturday’s General Election and Sinn Féin will peak too soon to capitalise on disaffection with Fine Gael in the Louth constituency. That is according to Newstalk and Virgin Media broadcaster Ivan Yates who thinks both Declan Breathnach and James Byrne will be returned by the voting public in nine days time.
As part of his ‘Calling It’ series of podcasts on Newstalk, the former Fine Gael TD is calling each and every one of the 39 constituencies across Ireland, with the help of colleague and political correspondent Gavan Reilly.
Whether or not you put any faith in Yates ability to call a constituency he is not overly familiar with, the broadcaster was firm in his belief that it is Fianna Fáil and not Sinn Féin who are best placed to make the most of the public’s apparent flagging faith in Fine Gael, as demonstrated by national opinion polls in recent weeks.
Yates also believes that Ged Nash will be returned to Dáil Éireann four years after leaving his seat and that Ruairi O Murchu will be elected – meaning he predicts two current Louth County councillors will be among the five elected. Fergus O’Dowd is his other pick.
That means Yates, who based much of his theory on geography, believes incumbents Imelda Munster and Peter Fitzpatrick will lose their seats. That certainly goes against the grain in Munster’s case, with bookmakers backing her in to 1/14 in some places to retain her seat.
Fitzpatrick is odds-on to keep his seat, with some bookmakers, while James Byrne of Fianna Fáil is considered a 2/1 shot.
“Dundalk and Drogheda are like oil and water,” Yates said on his podcast. “The dynamics of north vs south dictate this very difficult group of death. It is a group of death because it is very, very hard to call the last seat.”
“Certain to be elected first in my opinion is not Imelda Munster, it is Ruairi O Murchu. He will get the first Sinn Fein seat. Declan Breathnach is assured of election. Fergus O’Dowd will be ahead of John McGahon, who is in Dundalk. John McGahon won’t get the second seat and McGahon’s elimination will get Fergus in.
Yates believes that Labour’s stronghold in Drogheda – where three of the 10 elected representatives on Drogheda Borough Council are Labour – will provide enough support for Ged Nash to return to the Dáil.
“On the basis of the local elections, I’m going for Ged Nash. Ged Nash is not geographically well placed. He is either going to get elected in Drogheda or he’s not. If you look at the local elections and if you look at last Saturday, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are Labour. Labour have a good foothold.
“After Brendan Howlin’s time, Ged Nash is a potential future leader of the Labour party. He is very well connected with SIPTU.
“Peter Fitzpatrick has hope because of geography and because of disaffection with Fine Gael in the north of the constituency. This is very hard to call.
Yates cited sources within Fianna Fáil when discussing Byrne’s chances of reelection, saying there wasn’t a great deal of buzz about the candidate. Byrne was first elected to Louth County Council in May of last year when he replaced he father Tommy. He is the brother of TD for Meath Thomas Byrne.
“I really think if Fianna Fail are to get to 60, this is one you should look out for. The thing that is against him – I have already given Ged Nash and Fergus O’Dowd two seats and I find it very hard to see three seats in Drogheda.
“If you believe the polls, Sinn Fein have a chance. I believe there is going to an FF surge in the last week in the campaign and I think Sinn Fein will peak too early. It’s not easy and with lots of reservations and going against what I have said, I think James Byrne will get in. It’s tentative.”