With Declan Ganley, fairly well known MEPS like Sean Ó Neachtain, Jim Higgins, and Marian Harkin, and journalist Susan O’Keeffe all competing for EU seats in the North West, it’s little wonder this constituency is shaping up to be the most watched of the European contests.
Such is the interest that Paddy Power bookmakers has opened odds on who will win a seat in the three seat constituency which covers Connacht-Ulster, Clare, and Westmeath.
The odds to win a seat are 1/3 for Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins and Fianna Fáil MEP Sean Ó Neachtain. Independent MEP Marian Harkin is on 4/7; Sinn Féin councillor Pádraig McLochlainn is 11/10, Libertas’ Declan Ganley is 15/8; Fine Gael’s Joe Reilly is 11/4; Fianna Fáil’s Pascal Mooney is 7/2, while Labour’s Susan O’Keeffe is 20/1.
Odds have also been given as to who will top the poll. Marian Harkin is on 13/8, Sean Ó Neachtain is 5/2, Jim Higgins is 11/4, Pádraig McLochlainn is 10/3, and Declan Ganley is 6/1.
On balance it would appear that the bookies believe the outgoing three MEPs are likely to retain their seats, albeit in a tight contest. On these figures Marian Harkin is probably favourite to top the poll on the basis that both FF and FG will have their votes split.
FG’s Senator Joe Reilly is from Cavan and MEP Higgins is from Mayo. This gives the blueshirt ticket some geographical balance. This could be important.
MEP Higgins is geographically too close to Mr Ganley for comfort and the two of them are going hell for leather at each other (certainly if their recent radio exchanges on The Last Word on Today FM are anything to go by ). As such transfers from Sen Reilly will be crucial for MEP Higgins to retain his seat. Conversely, Sen Reilly himself may challenge for the seat if MEP Higgins’ vote is weakened by a good showing from Mr Ganley.
Sen Reilly’s performance could also be crucial in determining the outcome of the last seat. A strong show from him in the Ulster counties could harm Sinn Féin. However if Sen Reilly stumbles, Cllr Pádraig McLochlainn is likely to have a free run through Donegal, Cavan, and Monaghan.