He admits Election 2016 "will be fiercely fought", but Labour's Galway West TD Derek Nolan is determined to make "a passionate, positive case" on the doorsteps over the coming months in an all-out effort to defend his Dáil seat.
At the party's recent selection convention in the city, chaired by Minister for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Dep Nolan was selected as the candidate for Galway West, to, he said "continue the proud Labour tradition begun in Galway by President Michael D Higgins".
Dep Nolan, who was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 2011, said the next election will be a battle between "those such as Labour, with a vision for a better Galway of shared prosperity", and opponents, who he characterised as being "without ideas or achievement, dealing exclusively in anger and misery". He added that the task of the next Government will be to "define the Ireland that emerges from the crash", with an economy "where prosperity is shared by the many, not just the few".
Re-election in 2016?
Labour faces a very tough Election 2016, with polls showing the party between seven and nine per cent. This is especially worrying for Labour in Galway West, where the quota for election is 16.67 per cent, and for some time now, Dep Nolan has been seen as the most likely casualty in the constituency. While the party can potentially return to a more stable core vote of 10/11 per cent, this is still some way off seeing him returned.
Dep Nolan has recently accused sections of the local media of being "anti-Labour" for merely pointing out the above. This over-sensitivity, to what is normal political analyses, serves to highlight how fearful he has become for his future prospects - thus his own comments justify predictions that he will struggle come election day.
With Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil assured of a seat each in Galway West, this effectively leaves the remaining candidates fighting for three seats, with the contest being between the second FG and FF candidates, Dep Nolan, Sinn Féin's Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, and Independents Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly.
In 2011, Dep Nolan topped the poll with a relatively modest share of just more than 13 per cent, below the party's national vote share of 19.5 per cent in what was a very good election for Labour. The party will not get that kind of vote again in 2016. Added to this is that the left vote will split between Cllr Connolly, Sinn Féin, Labour, The Socialist Party, and People Before Profit, but the majority of that vote - and its transfers - will go heavily to Cllr Connolly.
The addition of south Mayo will aid FG and dilute Labour further. The Government can win two, but not three (2011 was an exception ) and small parties tend to get squeezed by their larger Government partners. Despite FG potentially running an ill-advised four-candidate ticket, it will be challenging for two seats in 2016, thus leaving very little in the way of either Government or left votes for Dep Nolan.
Dep Nolan is not without hope of being re-elected, but his chances depend on two things: First, a late national swing in the campaign to ensure FG do not have enough seats to form a single party Government; or if FG/Labour look short on numbers there will be an element of ‘avoiding chaos’ – questions about multi-party deals or arrangements involving FF and FG or independents - and people who are borderline between Labour and other options may end up voting for Labour.
Whatever scenario plays out, Dep Nolan needs to stay ahead of the second FG candidate, but with FG at 28 per cent, it is on course for two seats, meaning TDs Brian Walsh/Sean Kyne are more likley to be elected off Dep Nolan's transfers, rather than he off FG's.