SDLP internal report predicts up to 5 seats under threat.

From John Manley at the Irish News

The Irish News has seen an internal report from the SDLP predicting up to 5 seats are under threat with seats in South Belfast, Upper Bann and West Belfast likely to fall to parties like People Before Profit and Sinn Fein.

It forecasts that the party will hold its seats in the strongholds of Foyle and South Down, where it has three and two MLAs respectively.

However, in Alasdair McDonnell’s Westminster constituency of South Belfast, where the leader was returned as an MP with the lowest ever share of the vote, the party will lose one of its two MLAs.

The report also predicts the loss of representation in North Belfast, where senior party figure Alban Maginness is the incumbent, and in East Derry, where current MLA John Dallat is not expected to stand again for election.

Overall the figures point to a poor assembly election performance with the party’s Stormont seats cut from 14 to just nine.

Other places are under threat will no mention of gains elsewhere;

In deputy leader Dolores Kelly’s Upper Bann constituency, the SDLP is likely to lose out to Sinn Féin, while European Election candidate Alex Attwood’s West Belfast seat is expected to be snatched by People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll, who received almost 7,000 votes in May’s Westminster poll.

The report forecasts no gains for the party but it would hold its single seats in West Tyrone, Mid Ulster and Newry and Armagh.

To read the full story you can do so here

Who are the seats under threat to?

Upper Bann-Catherine Seeley (Sinn Fein) and current Deputy Mayor of ABC Council.

South and North Belfast-Alliance’s Duncan Morrow who is a party activist and researcher/Paula Bradshaw who is a local Councillor, then let’s not forget we have a second DUP candidate in the hunt to, who I would punt would be Christopher Stalford and in North, Nuala McAllister who is a local Councillor.

West Belfast-Gerry Carroll (PBP) who is a current local Councillor in the constituency.

East Derry- Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Fein) who is an activist with the party or with a crowded Unionist field maybe sitting MLA Claire Sugden.

 

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  • Ulick

    So the Eastwood campaign resorts to the underhand leaking tactics now. Doesn’t exactly bode well for a new beginning. That ‘Party’ really is a joke. Sooner Fianna Fáil puts them out of their misery the better.

  • Ernekid

    Not surprising news really. The SDLP has done nothing in the past few years to preserve these seats and stop their support haemorrhaging. They’ve given people no reason to go out and give them their vote. Gerry Carroll deserves to win that seat as he’s the hardest working councillor in Belfast. Hopefully the upcoming election will bring some new faces to Stormont and give rid of the same old people who’ve been around for so long nobody can remember why they were elected in the first place.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The threat in South Belfast is Pengelly, Stallford will get in first for the DUP. The threat in West Belfast is Unionist, Carroll will get in at Sinn Féin’s expense, unless they win backs votes from him.

  • Lord Coleraine

    Ref. East Derry, I would put it that Alliance might actually have a chance there. They got their best ever result in the constituency this year and that seems to be largely at the SDLP’s expense. If the SDLP loses its seat, it’ll be to either SF or Alliance. I don’t think there are 5 unionist seats in East Derry.

  • Dan

    Be much better if Northern Ireland lost 108 seats overall.

  • Cavehill

    A very interesting report – you have to wonder how something so damaging to the leader could make it into the public domain around the time of the leadership election…

    As for the predictions I think that the DUP will clinch a second SB seat, mostly due to their large Westminster vote. I don’t know what will happen with Alban’s seat in North Belfast, however anecdotally, living in a mixed area, Sinn Fein are the only party in the past 3 campaigns to come to my door. I think that East Derry is the great unknown in this election, with SDLP, Alliance, UUP and Claire Sugden all fighting for the fifth and sixth seats. It will certainly be interesting.

  • mjh

    Ulick is right, this bears all the hallmarks of a “dirty tricks” style attempt to influence the leadership election. Not only is this an obviously well-timed leak, it is clear that the content of the report must have been distorted almost out of recognition to produce the desired effect.

    Why?

    Well firstly no independent analysis, let alone one conducted by the SDLP, would predict that the party will lose five Assembly seats based on the results of the Westminster election alone. The figures would not support that contention.

    It is, however, perfectly possible that an internal report would have identified five seats which could be under threat, although it will have based this on all the evidence available not just Westminster.

    Secondly, the list of the five most vulnerable seats would include one of the Foyle seats, and certainly not East Londonderry as the story claims.

    Let’s take them one by one.

    East Londonderry. In the Westmister election the SDLP vote was equivilant to 0.85 of a quota, but the SF vote was only 1.37 of a quota. There is no way that shares like that would result in SF taking the SDLP seat.

    South Belfast. Clearly the second seat is most vulnerable SDLP seat in NI. But it should be remembered that they might not have had it at all if Alliance had not miscalculated by only running one candidate in 2011.

    West Belfast. On the Westminster figures PBPA will take an SF seat. The SDLP are under very strong threat from a unionist – but could hold on with PBPA and SF transfers.

    North Belfast. On the Westminster votes the SDLP would only just hold their Assembly seat and are therefore under some threat from Alliance. The SF vote was equivalent to 2.37 quotas – below the level needed to take a third seat. If Maginness does not run again the loss of his significant personal vote would clearly jeopardise the seat. On the other hand the evidence suggests that SF was successful in squeezing the SDLP vote last year which cannot be expected again in 2016.

    Upper Bann. In 2014 the SDLP share did not drop in the council elections – so the Westminster fall looks like a successful SF squeeze. So while the SDLP seat could be in danger on the Westminster figures (it would very much depend on the pattern of transfers) – no self-respecting analyst would assume that squeeze would automatically remain in 2016.

    Foyle. While the straight fight for the nationalist vote in Westminster produced a result which in an Assembly election would make all three SDLP seats absolutely safe, any reasonable analysis would have to note the other elections over the last five years have shown a high degree of volatility in the SDLP vote, based on which other candidates stand. In the 2010 Westminster they took the equivalent 3.13 quotas (even though Eamonn McCann took 0.54) and at the last Assembly 2.47 quotas, while they scored the equivalent of about 2.7 quotas in the local government elections on the same day. By 2014 this had fallen to about 2.2 quotas. So PBPA, or even a dissident independent should be seen as a real threat.

  • mickfealty

    It’s Soooo the opposite of clever political manovering on soooo many levels…

  • mjh

    Yes. Mr Bean plays ‘House of Cards’.

  • mickfealty

    Ouch! Trying to engineer a fire sale on an asset you shortly want/need to sell as a going concern is perhaps even beyond the wit of Mr Bean.

  • Gaygael

    I agree with much of the MJH.

    Where did east Derry come from? Unless SF pull off some exceptional balancing, and the SDLP have a slight drop, it should be safe. There is an allinace solid base to shore up the SDLP when it’s eliminated. There is also the matter of Claire Sugden running as independent.
    Foyle. In recent days there has been some activity from McCann. That’s early enough. With a serious campaign and a narrative similar to Gerry Caroll in West Belfast, this could be his year to break through. And it will most likely be at the expense of the SDLP 3rd.

    South Belfast I have much to say on, and little change from the last time. The second SDLP seat is at risk to Greens and 2nd alliance.
    The other contest is a intra unionist contest. There are two unionist seats in South Belfast. I don’t see unionist share above 40% and therefore enough to be in for a third. Also DUP have been quite transfer toxic in this seat. Who will be on ticket with Pengelley? Bell or Stalford. I think if they choose bell, there may be much disquiet in the local party. Stalford could shore that up. Hmm… Let’s see. UKIP got 5% at WM15 and will take some votes but most will return home in favour to UUP. McGimspey runs the risk of what Cobain did in north in 2011 and slip below viability. But Mikes recent moves may help him a little. The fact he ignored over 700 lobbies on marriage may also not bode well for transfers from him. And then we have Ruth. What will she do? TUV Candidacy? And then likely PUPs,struggling to get their voice heard in a crowded big personality and drama unionist contest. The other is the conservatives. Ben maton will be working for continued profile and a punt at council in 2019. A big unionist section, could raise unionist turnout.

    North Belfast is very interesting. I live here. I may have vested interest, but I’ll try to be very objective. In the wider contest, likely PUP candidate Julie-Anne Corr Johnstone will be targeting the third DUP seat. She previously decapitated their council leader in 2014 in Oldpark. She has been working the ground and his some profile and a good social media presence and seems to be building rep as a good constiuency rep, even if at times the occasional dodgy reaction to local sectrarianscare stories. She is also gay. The UUP seemed to have been grooming Andy Allen (thanks for a good yes on Monday) for north or west Belfast, but he went east where he was born and lives. A open goal for PUP to present itself as the alternative in North. No other real stand out candidate but they may run McCusker from the gelngormely end of the Constituency.

    In WM15, alliance were 1% behind. SDLP optimists will say this was because they got squeezed by SF. Maybe. SF will run 2 or 3. Likely two. They didn’t do as well as expected at Westminster, (although scored higher than ever). A third ran in 2011 and didn’t do well. Likely 2, and likely Gerry and Caral, both solidly home, after internal transfers. There won’t be much to spare, and even less than usual will go SDLP. Alban needs to stay ahead of the alliance candidate. Alliance have already been active on the ground and are clearly targeting here. As an aside, north Belfast was the second highest area to lobby on marriage. And Alban abstained for the fifth time. I see this seat go to alliance.

    I have always said upper bann was a lesser risk. I still don’t see it. There is a solid allinace vote which looks unlikely to pass her total so should keep Kelly safe. She was only 300 ahead the last time so excellent balancing by SF would work, but I’m not sure they will do it.

    So to west Belfast. Carol wil top poll with plenty to spare. Where does his surplus go? Will it be enough to save the SDLP? In the end probably. If there is a SF slump, PBP, a unionist and SDLP could all have seats. Unlikely, but what would be a calamity in SFs heartland. PBP, 3 SF and the last two between 2 SF, sdlp and a unionist. I think PUP will run Billy. He’s the only one to beat mccoubrey, and I’m minded to say the SDLP will hold on. Largely due to PBP transfers. West Belfast may still have some stories to come.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I suspect this is some kind of internal SDLP report highlighting the worst case scenario. When you have limited campaigning resources you have to make some tough calls as to where your efforts should be focused.

    I’d have thought it unlikely that the SDLP would lose their seats in South or West Belfast.

    I think what will save the SDLP is the fact that SF’s eye is off the ball, as it was in May 2015. In 2016 SF will be fighting a campaign on two fronts, and even they will find it a stretch.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Fianna Fáil will never campaign in NI.

  • Granni Trixie

    It will be especially interesting to see how well Pengelly does in SB given a meteoric rise in the ranks oweing little to work on the ground.

  • Robin Keogh

    Actually no. The 26 county election is in the last week of feb or first week in march. Ass election not till May?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Google says the absolute last date for the Dáil election is 8th April. And bear in mind that if Kenny wants to hurt SF – which I think we all agree he does – it’s in his interests to have the election as close as possible to the NI Assembly elections.

    In any case, election campaigning and organizing occurs well ahead of the polling date.

  • Gaygael

    I think you have it wrong when you imply that SF are the only threat to the SDLP. SF have not had a good election in the north recently. Nowhere did they benefit at the expense of the SDLP.
    In south Belfast the second candidate started on 9.9%. They are unlikely to hold that unless they go for equal balance of both candidates. Shave a small amount from that and the seat is at risk to a green and alliance second.

    In west Belfast their only hope is solid transfers from PBP.

    And as I said above, north is in trouble.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I wasn’t intentionally implying that all the threats to the SDLP come from SF, but historically, that is where they’ve lost all of their seats. If SF fail to get their vote out, the SDLP will do better than they otherwise would have by default.

    Points well made on PBP. I don’t think the SDLP is as in hot water in North as you think – they’re certainly not strong but they should hold on. But that is purely a matter of opinion of course.

  • Robin Keogh

    Trust me, it will be between the 21st feb and 8th of march

  • Gaygael

    Fair point.
    Let’s disagree for now on north Belfast.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    For once I’m actually going to agree with an internal SDLP document. Those 5 seats are under threat, though some more than others; and to look at the party’s prospects in that light is much more realistic than to talk of possibly winning seats in all 18 constituencies (as has happened before). If Alliance can crank out a ninth seat (and they missed second seats in North Down and East Antrim by a hair’s breadth last time) they could be level pegging with a party that outpolled them by 9 to 1 in the 1999 European election. If this really is an internal analysis, I’m genuinely impressed; it’s based on actual votes cast rather than wishful thinking.

    Significantly, there’s no obvious gain for the SDLP anywhere. The Fermanagh South Tyrone seat was lost by only 62 votes in 2011. On the 2014 local election results, it should be salvageable; but only if a (single) candidate is put in place very soon to cultivate his or her electoral garden. Other seats in County Antrim were lost, or in Strangford and Lagan Valley not gained, through carelessness as much as anything. A coherent strategy, with a clear message, and targeted resources, could actually look at picking up five seats rather than preventing the loss of five.

    But time is very short.

  • Robin Keogh

    How much u wanna bet?

  • Gopher

    One big problem the SDLP have on all the empirical evidence is they will be forced to run not many more candidates than seats they actually have or risk an even bigger debacle so the party will look increasingly “tired”

  • SDLP supporter

    Not true. The slate will be in its twenties. In its current 14 member Assembly team, four are standing down: Byrne, Bradley, McKevitt and Dallat. Maybe more will follow. With candidates like McCrossan, McNulty, Hanna, Mallon and McGrath the SDLP will have a much younger profile than some other parties, especially Alliance.

  • Cavehill

    SDLP supporter, is Mallon rather than Maginness going to be standing in my patch then?

  • Gaygael

    Even the east Derry analysis?
    I would love to actually see the report.

    And I really dnt think they have anywhere to gain. It’s too far of a stretch, unless they get a significant surge and score above their 2011 total and pushing above their 2007 total. Very very unlikely. New ‘progressive nationalism’ or not.

  • Gaygael

    I thought that too. Interesting move. Still don’t think she can save the seat.

  • Gaygael

    One in every constituency, with a second in south bel and maybe west Tyrone and newry and Armagh. And 3 in south down and Foyle.

    How many women, and how will they solve the problem in Foyle of running three men?

  • Cavehill

    Is this a slip from someone in the know, or wishful thinking? Hopefully SDLP supporter can clarify.

  • Gopher

    So you running two in West Belfast?

  • Gaygael

    I think it’s a hope. Seems Alban and other social conservatives have the grip on north Belfast.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    East Derry is indeed the least vulnerable of these – SF 21%, SDLP 15% in the last Assembly election – but the swing required for SF to reach a 2:1 advantage is only 3%. We’ve seen comparable or bigger shifts elsewhere.

    I’m not on the ground, but I do wonder who Sugden will take votes from.

  • Gaygael

    The UUP are running mccanless. Just the one I think so I am sure Sugden will pick up some of that. The alliance vote is growing, but I don’t think it will be higher than sugden’s so their votes should benefit her.

    Agree re Sinn Fein and the requirement for excellent balancing to take out the SDLP.

  • SDLP supporter

    Cavehill, to quote Manuel from Fawlty Towers: “I know nothing”. And even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

  • mjh

    Nick,

    SF would need to exceed that 2:1 advantage in order to take the SDLP seat.

    Firstly because the SDLP receives more transfers (mainly from Alliance). In 2011 the SDLP received 623 more transfers in East Londonderry than SF. That’s worth a 1.8% vote share advantage.

    Secondly SF would need to run two candidates (as before) while the SDLP can drop to one this time (if they are sensible).

    Add to that the fact that although the SDLP have declined slightly in this constituency in elections since 2011, so too has SF.

    To put it in context the swing from SDLP to SF needed to lose this seat would also cost them Mid Ulster, West Tyrone and the second seat in South Down.

    It all points to someone having tampered with the list of vulnerable seats before showing the “dodgy dossier” to the Irish News. To deflect attention from the possible vulnerability in Foyle? Or just to “sex up” the number of vulnerable seats?

  • Gaygael

    Oh you tease!

  • Gaygael

    Deflecting from Foyle is a very interesting motivator.

  • Gaygael

    So you think Bell will go back to Strangford and be one of three MLAs for the DUP there? It’s a risk if they are under pressure. They could lose one and it would be McIlveen, Hamilton or Bell.

    The DUP have not yet picked for south Belfast. They must soon.

    I disagree with west. Carroll should have more than quota and surplus. I think his surplus will keep the SDLP safe. For now.

  • SDLP supporter

    Bearing in mind that Nicholas has an Alliance background (unconscious bias) there is a lot in what he says. In 1998 the SDLP won seats in all four County Antrim constituencies and SF won none. Now, SDLP has no Antrim seats and SF has three (McKay, McLaughlin, Mullan). Frankly, that is a disgrace. The 1998 MLAs for Lagan Valley, South Antrim and East Antrim did not, to put it at its most circumspect, in the phrase du jour, cultivate their electoral garden. I could use stronger language.
    Similarly. in North Antrim they did not put an adequate organisation on the ground as there is in South Belfast, South Down and Foyle. That, frankly, is the fault of successive party leaderships and the people in situ. Similarly, in Strangford, the three-time candidate in situ has no idea how to take that elusive seat and somebody should have been sent to work with him, or ask him to stand aside.
    Party organisation is not rocket science, but a change in SDLP culture is badly needed and, I suspect, coming. MLAs and councillors have to be made accountable.

  • Croiteir

    Hearing rumours from South Down re FF

  • Gaygael

    Thy going t stand n 2016? They had talked about 2019.

  • Croiteir

    Nope – about an ex sdlp man – have no idea about the veracity. Although I suppose that we will hear about it at the youth wing meeting there later this month

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Just to be clear, I resigned from Allliance several years ago, having last attended a party meeting in 1998, so I think your first sentence is unnecessary man-playing. In fact, I agree with the rest of your comment. There was no need to take it to the personal level – that weakened your argument.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    The SDLP *did* lose the West Tyrone seat in 2007, despite having a full quota of first preference votes, so none of the above scenarios is impossible in a bad year. This year and last year were bad years.

  • Kevin Breslin

    In an Assembly election I don’t know how much would change, but at Westminster Sinn Féin were bang on four quota a lot further from quota five than SDLP or combined unionists were off quota one, they were basically on four quotas, so Carroll would win a Sinn Féin seat were he to reach quota as Sinn Féin can’t make four go into five, five times. SDLP would still be under threat from a unionist, especially if the more middle class friendly UUP picks up loyalist votes and they usurp the DUP.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They have campaigned in Northern Ireland for the Good Friday Agreement, they will at the EU referendum vote. Indeed De Valera won an NI Parliament seat on a Fianna Fáil banner.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well if you think your one opinion is greater than 800,000 opinions, 400 opinions or even 2 opinions at the ballot box, maybe you are the joke. Would you think?

    Sort out your own misery please.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yip, it is a risk either way. They could lose one in Strangford but they don’t have one in South Belfast. If they move one of the ministers from Strangford then simply put the person they bring in to replace them might lose anyway.

    Assembly elections are tough, people like to attack politicians for being negative, grumpy and unambitious but a lot of the critics who say that are just the same. Rather than being the change they want to see in the world they moan the type of politics they don’t like, and keep the attitudes and inactivity that ensures that “negative politics” continues. It’s a self fulfilling tragedy.

    Wagering on the status quo and more of the same next time around is a good bet, if cynical people lost their excuse for bitterness they’d get bored.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They are “committed” to standing in 2019, but they had a member in the Assembly in terms of Gerry McHugh. Even if there were no competition from Sinn Féin or the SDLP some would say the party might have baggage in the North in some areas like Fermanagh over Sean Quinn. A spell in a government coalition might put some of the Cowen era problems to rest.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Really think that the fact people care about the report doing any direct damage to the SDLP is it might actually be less damaging than complete anonymity. People with low moral will have low moral and people with defiance will still have defiance, a report like this isn’t going to radically change someone’s life.

    Similar reason why a lot of non-stories about problems in other parties don’t seem to stick, I think the local media greatly over estimate how much people actually care.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nick, I think your honest admission that you don’t know what is happening on the ground is pretty much welcome modesty in comparison to a lot of people here. I respect your ability to do the maths here more so than many but I think declining turnouts, more younger voters, potentially more “bitter” older voters a lot of the electoral vectors might be volatile to any party. However, unlike the Republic, the lack of new independents in most constituencies might favour those already in the Assembly. Alliance look like holding their eight on the numbers and nothing more, but against the SDLP a strong performance by either party might help the other in a lot of constituencies, so I’m not attacking them.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think others more than Sinn Féin may have made more gains at the SDLP’s expense Lagan Valley, North Antrim and I think South Antrim were lost to unionists. West Tyrone was lost to an independent. Sinn Féin have made gains from unionists in some areas, and South Belfast seat was gained from Monica McWilliams of the Woman’s Coalition.

  • Robin Keogh

    I think it is pretty much accepted that SF will lose one of its WB seats to PBP. The only thing that might save it is if there is a ranch upswing in Shinner turnout. In that case it is possible that the SDLP will lose out. I would expect loyalist voters who might have in the past tactically voted for the SDLP to switch to PBP which might put SDLP at the bottom of the heap after the first count.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well to be fair Robin, I did account for that. If Sinn Féin do, Carroll is competing with the SDLP. The unionist votes become unionist transfers if no one gets elected from that group, beating the SDLP for a seat becomes more of a matter of “unionist outreach” in that scenario than “socialist outreach” (unless they bring him into the fold Labour Democratic Left style… lol)

    A mitigation might be Alex Maskey’s return to the West, but without Paul Maskey and Gerry Adams, even an electoral veteran like Sue Ramsey this time, it’ll be tough to maximize the SF vote.

  • Kevin Breslin

    As a non-Shinner, I don’t think the electoral date is really relevant here. European elections North and South were close together. The only difference being Europe is the same ball game on an all-Ireland basis, but Leinster House and Stormont elections are not. Parties will have to move their activists inter-constituency anyway, having activists move between sides of a border hinterlands on one electoral tour would be more effective than some politicians campaigns between regions over an hours drive from one another with lower economic interaction in the one jurisdiction e.g. Derry and Ballymena or Castlebar and Carrick on Shannon. If you don’t have the local activists there and have to play rolling subs, the electorate will be skeptical of the real presence the party has in that region anyway.

    If Enda Kenny wants to hurt Sinn Féin electorally, it’ll be by his own political actions and that of his party.

  • Granni Trixie

    In your SB DUP prediction of 2nd seat based on Westminster vote – you do not appear to be factoring in (a) Westminster conditions do not prevail ( eg unexpected Conservative majority diminishes DUP claims of influence)
    (b) Emma Pengelly has no profile on the ground In SB and voters might be pissed off at being taken for granted (c) DUP has attracted much negative attention for its in- out tactics, stigma which is not likely to disappear before next election even if,as predicted, PR resignation is imminent.

  • Cavehill

    I agree that there were factors in 2015 that won’t apply in 2016, I just struggle to see how Alliance can come from third in 2015 to getting two seats in 2016 or where the SDLP will be able to get two from. The large base of unionist transfers should see the DUP through to two IMO.

  • Granni Trixie

    For ciarifcation – My comments are not merely to ‘have a go’ at EP so much as to put down a marker of an example where the candidate does not have a personal following locally therefore presumably people are voting solidly for the DUP brand. Usually it’s a mixture of factors. As I say, interesting to follow.

  • Granni Trixie

    I recognise that what is news today in politics can be gone from memory tomorrow. However, there is so much negative stuff impacting on brand DUP since the 2015 election ( and it doesn’t appear to be over yet – watch this space) that one cannot assume it will not impact on the DUP come 1916 election.
    Allance would be foolish not to run a second candidate SB given they got well over the quota last assembly election ( sorry don’t have exact figures) plus they are more transfer friendly and the election is not fptp.

  • Granni Trixie

    Re transfers – there could also be impact in 2o16 from increased bad blood between UUP and DUP.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I don’t trust you (or anyone else, and I don’t expect you to trust me). If you want to persuade me of something then you need to give me facts. If you don’t want to persuade me, that’s grand, although it does make me wonder why you bother contributing here.

    Historically fewer than half of all Irish general elections have occurred any earlier than April. I don’t know what Kenny is doing, but if he wants to inflict maximum pain on SF the best way is to call it as close as possible to the Assembly elections in NI so that their resources are stretched.

  • Robin Keogh

    Well trust in someone else is bound up in self confidence in my view. March and april are too clutterred with paddys day and the easter break. Apart from that reliable sources suggest late fed early march.

    And i agree, its not a bad time for SF. Traditionally polls show us peak between december and february. But, SF dont scare FG electorally, unlike FF and Labour.