Five days out from polling day, Sinn Fein leaders have reason to be in good cheer. The latest polls (Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post)have the party sitting on 12%, a figure which would put the party in serious contention for a number of seats in the mid-teens. Even slippage from this number should still return a tally of seats in double figures, catapulting the party into a previously unattainable position of relevance within the Dail.
I’ve had a go at attempting to rank the order of likely seats for the party, ranging from those which they should be able to bank on regardless of a late vote slippage to those which a late gust of support could bring across the line.
The (Almost) Certainties
Cavan Monaghan (1st seat): Caoimhghin O’Caolain, the party’s standard bearer in the Dail, first elected in 1997 and comfortably returned in the subsequent two elections.
Louth: Gerry Adams should have little difficulty here and is said to be in strong contention to top the poll.
Dublin South Central: The party’s solitary survivor in the 2007 Dublin meltdown, Aengus O’Snodaigh should be returned without too much difficulty.
Kerry North/ West Limerick: Always a hotly contested constituency due to the plurality of support around the four main parties here, Martin Ferris should still have enough to be returned.
Donegal South West: Pearse Doherty’s stunning by election victory likely to be followed up by a repeat show of electoral strength for the party’s rising star.
Donegal North East: Padraig MacLochlainn is strongly positioned to claim a seat for the party in this constituency, and with Fianna Fail and the Blaney clan in turmoil, a strong likelihood has become a virtual certainty.
The Urban Swing
Dublin South West: Sean Crowe was the surprise faller in 2007, and with Fianna Fail holding two seats in this constituency, even a modest swing back to Crowe could return him to the Dail.
Cork North Central: Jonathan O’Brien has been hotly tipped by numerous polls in the constituency and is the party’s best placed contender to make the historic breakthrough in Ireland’s third city.
Dublin North East: Party stalwart Larry O’Toole is well-positioned to benefit by claiming a seat.
Dublin North West: As is the case with O’Toole, Dessie Ellis should have enough to claim a seat here if the swing to the party predicted on a Dublin and statewide basis holds.
Dublin Central: The former MEP, Mary Lou McDonald, should (finally) receive her ticket to Leinster House- an important win for the party, too, as McDonald could be the only female returned for Sinn Fein to the Dail (unless a stronger breeze brings in the following seats.)
The Breeze Beneficiaries
Cavan Monaghan (2nd): If Kathryn Reilly can claim a seat here then the party will have succeeded in winning multiple seats in a constituency for the first time.
Laois-Offaly: Brian Stanley is a long serving elected representative in Laois and is said to be strongly positioned to take a seat here.
Meath West– Peadar Toibin has been tipped in a number of polls and analysis pieces as a possible winner.
Dublin Mid-West: If the ever impressive Eoin O’Broin can bring this seat in, he’ll make a bit of history by having been elected to constituencies in both Belfast and Dublin during his political career.
Cork East– Sandra McLellan, like Toibin, has been tipped in analysis pieces as a winner, as recently as yesterday’s Irish Times.
There are other possibilities, of course, with Maurice Quinlivan making noise in the congested Limerick constituency, though the party possibly missed a trick by not putting up the impressive Ruadhan MacAodhain in a constituency other than Dublin South East.