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Sunday 4 December 2016

Eamon Gilmore would likely have retained his Dail seat, poll suggests

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore

FORMER Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore would likely have held on to his seat in Dun Laoghaire had he not decided to step down, an internal Fianna Fail poll has shown.

The poll, seen by the Herald, shows Mr Gilmore was on course to take the second seat behind Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

It was conducted on May 22, less than a fortnight before the former Tanaiste announced he would not be contesting the upcoming election.

Mr Gilmore came in second place on first preference votes (17.4pc), according to the poll, ahead of People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett (16.7pc).

tipped

According to the findings, Ms Mitchell O'Connor (18.3pc) is likely to top the poll, with Fine Gael possibly on course to take a second seat.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Maria Bailey, who recorded 14.5pc, is tipped to be added to the ticket by the party.

This is despite the fact she was beaten into third place at the selection convention by councillor Barry Ward.

Labour may rue the decision by Mr Gilmore to step down, a move also taken by his former cabinet colleagues Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn.

He said last month that he had been in public life for 30 years and that it was now time to step down.

Mr Gilmore quit as party leader in March last year after a disastrous European and local elections that saw Labour haemorrhage dozens of seats.

In what was a dramatic few days for the party, it emerged that an internal faction of TDs and senators had been plotting to oust Mr Gilmore as leader.

Party sources say he never got over the actions of the group, known as the Gang of Eight.

Labour's selection convention, which is due to take place tonight, will be contested by Senator Aideen Hayden, councillors Deirdre Kingston and Carrie Smyth and party activist David Traynor.

Ms Smyth, who is based in Killiney, is the favourite.

Meanwhile, the poll, which was conducted at 12 count centres on referendum day, shows Fianna Fail facing an uphill battle to win a seat.

Councillor Cormac Devlin recorded 9.3pc, ahead of former minister and council colleague Mary Hanafin (7.1pc).

The poll will prove dis- appointing for Ms Hanafin, who has previously said the party must field only one candidate in the general election.

The Fianna Fail selection convention, which has yet to be scheduled, is also being contested by councillors Kate Feeney and Jennifer Cuffe.

slim

Party sources are adamant that Mr Devlin has the necessary support to win.

Despite his poll ratings and those of Ms Hanafin, Fianna Fail figures believe they have a slim chance of taking the third seat.

It is expected that the party will focus on targeting Mr Gilmore's vote as an electoral strategy.

A decision must be made whether to add a second candidate to the ticket in Dun Laoghaire, particularly given the fact that Fianna Fail is struggling to meet the gender quota targets.

The Dun Laoghaire constituency has been reduced to a three-seater due to the presence of Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

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