Two Dail seats for Sinn Fein in Donegal..?

There’s an analysis piece in the Donegal Democrat that backs some of the soundings I’ve been taking in and around Donegal in recent weeks, ie that Sinn Fein could/should take one and possibly two seats in Donegal in the next southern general election. The figures are an extrapolation from the last Red C poll, and based on an ‘independent’ analysis from Aidan Kavanagh at NUI Maynooth (who did a similar exercise in May):

The national figures which were published at the weekend show Fianna Fail at 18% (down 6%), Fine Gael 32% (up 1%), Labour 27% (up 4%), Green Party 4% (up 1%), Sinn Féin 9% (down 1%), Independents/Other small parties 10% (up 2%)

On these figures, an independent analysis estimates the implications for Donegal are as follows:

Donegal North East (FF) 25.1% (FG) 30.5% (LB) 5.6% (GP)1.3% (SF) 26.1% (OTH)11.3%

Donegal South West (FF) 25.3% (FG) 31.1% (LB) 8.6% (GP) 1.5% (SF) 31.8% (OTH)1.7%

Now there should be a major health warning here. These are extrapolations from an opinion poll, not hard figures. But they chime with an actual dynamic that is certainly at play in the NE, ie that SF is successfully positioning itself as the foil for FF voters to register their disgust.

That positioning is probably easier to achieve in Donegal than many other counties. And in NE, where the Blaney machine behind Independent FF was a great deal closer to the SF position and cultural identity than elsewhere in the county.

With Letterkenny GP Jim McDaid showing no signs of weakening his grip on his Letterkenny base – Niall Blaney the latest scion of that famous political family – will be faced with a life and death struggle with Padraig MacLochlainn to keep the party’s second seat. Kavanagh (as he did in May) has an even better showing for SF in the SE constituency.

Add to this that there is no real Labour tradition in the county, and I’d expect to see SF pick up a chunk of the Labour surge and Donegal, which should in turn enable the party to play above its performance in May 2007, even if it comes in around the same national share of the vote.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty