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New TG4 poll in Donegal shows FF may thwart SF hopes

Election posters at the Mountain Top roundabout, Letterkenny, ahead of the last local elections.

Election posters at the Mountain Top roundabout, Letterkenny, ahead of the last local elections.

A NEW opinion poll carried out for TG4 shows that Fianna Fáil is poised to win two seats in Donegal and may well upset Sinn Féin’s plans to take three seats in that newly merged five-seat constituency.

Veteran FF candidate Pat the Cope Gallagher looks set to make a comeback to Dáil Éireann and there is even a possibility that Sinn Féin might lose one of the two seats it held in the county coming into this election, depending on transfers in the later stages of the count.
This Ipsos MRBI opinion poll on Donegal voters’ intentions was commissioned for the channel’s Vóta 2016 programme and broadcast this evening. It indicates that outgoing Gaeltacht Minister of State, Joe McHugh, has a good chance of retaining a single seat for Fine Gael with outgoing Independent deputy Thomas Pringle fighting stiff competition from the bigger parties and other non-party candidates for the last seat.
 
Donegal Constituency Party Support (Number 1 Preference Vote)
Sinn Féin (SF) 30%
Fianna Fáil (FF) 30%
Fine Gael (FG) 17%
Independent (Ind) 23%
 
Donegal Constituency Individual Candidate Support   (Number 1 Preference Vote)
Pearse Doherty  (SF) 19%
Charlie McConalogue (FF) 17%
Joe McHugh (FG) 13%
Pat the Cope Gallagher (FF) 13%
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn  (SF) 9%
Thomas Pringle  (Ind) 7%
Dessie Shiels  (Ind) 7%
Paddy Harte (FG) 4%
Frank McBrearty Jnr (Ind) 4%
Tim Jackson  (Ind) 3%
Gary Doherty  (SF) 2%
Ian McGarvey  (Ind 2%
Niamh Kennedy  (Ind) 2%
 
 With over two weeks left to polling day, it is too early to make definitive pronouncements but FF is performing well ahead of its national vote and, based on these figures, may well take two seats. With FF polling this well, it is by no means certain that SF will take a second seat, which some commentators have been confidently predicting in view of that party’s loyal following in the county and SF’s progress in national polls during the lifetime of the last Dáil.
SF looks set to take a seat on the first count with Pearse Doherty on 19%. This is two points over quota and subsequent transfers could make all the difference to Pádraig Mac Lochlainn’s chances of getting a second seat for that party at a later stage of the count.
Charlie McConalogue, on 17%, looks set to take the second seat and the first seat for FF. The third and fourth seats look like going to Pat The Cope Gallagher (FF) and Joe McHugh, (FG), both with 13% of the vote, although neither candidate reaches the quota and will have to rely on transfers. Pat The Cope Gallagher, a former Minister of State and MEP and long-standing politician in Donegal,  should have the profile to attract sufficient transfers, while Joe McHugh looks set to benefit from transfers from FG running mate, Paddy Harte, who on 4% first preference votes looks certain to be  eliminated.
Calling the fifth seat is nigh on impossible. A number of candidates are clustered together – Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, (SF, 9%), Thomas Pringle (Ind, 7%) and Dessie Shiels (Ind, 7%). If Pearse Doherty can poll comfortably above the quota, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn may build up enough of a lead to be uncatchable, with the additional help of transfers from SF’s third candidate, Gary Doherty, on just 2%. However, if it goes down to the wire, Thomas Pringle and Dessie Shiels, both Independents, will be relatively transfer-friendly and could be there to the bitter end.

Note on Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted in the Donegal constituency on behalf of TG4 by Ipsos MRBI. among a sample of 500 adults aged 18 upwards. Interviewing took place on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th February.   The survey was conducted within the guidelines laid down by The Marketing Society of Ireland and by ESOMAR.  Interviews were conducted via CATI [Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing]. Respondents were selected from a database of both landline and mobile numbers created via Random Digit Dialling.  A survey sample of 500 attaches a margin of error of up to plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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