SF on course for breakthrough in European elections - new poll

Matt Carthy

A new opinion poll has shown Sinn Féin on course to make a major breakthrough in the European elections, winning its first ever seats in the Republic outside of Dublin.

The Millward Brown poll in the Irish Independent shows the party set to win a seat in each of the two four-seat constituencies.

It also shows Fianna Fáil in the lead in terms of first-preference votes.

The poll, carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week is the first to deal specifically with the European elections.

Some 485 voters in the Midlands-North-West constituency were asked for their first preferences - and revealed that Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy is set to top the poll on 17%, ahead of Fianna Fáíl's Thomas Byrne on 16%.

It appears to be a four-way battle for the remaining two seats between Fine Gael's Jim Higgins and Mairead McGuinness, and independent candidates Marian Harkin and Luke Ming Flanagan. At least one of the Fine Gael candidates is expected to win a seat however.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher will face a serious fight to save his seat.

In the Ireland South constituency, the poll of 507 voters showed Fianna Fáil's Brian Crowley as runaway leader on 36%, but Sinn Féín's Liadh Ni Riada is in a strong second place on 15%.

The Fine Gael pair of Sean Kelly and Deirdre Clune are tied on 12% each, but transfers from their colleague Simon Harris, on 7%, may help them over the line.

Overall the poll gives at least two seats each to Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, and none to Labour.

A separate poll for the three-seater in Dublin will be released tomorrow.

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