Fianna Fáil is almost certain to be reduced to just one seat out of five in Galway West after the next General Election as Dep Frank Fahey has admitted that he is almost certain to lose his seat.
Fianna Fáil is likely to run three candidates in the constituency at the next election - The Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív, Dep Frank Fahey, and councillor Michael J Crowe - but it faces bearing the wrath of the public, enraged by the Government’s mismanagement of the economy.
On Monday, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he would dissolve the Dáil should the Budget be passed on December 7. Given that the Social Welfare Bill and the Finance Bill must be passed in January, and a three-week notice given before polling day, it is likely to be the end of February before the election is held.
While most commentators agree that Minister Ó Cuív is on course to top the poll, there has been intense speculation over how Dep Fahey and, assuming he runs, Mayor Crowe would fair.
However Dep Fahey has probably laid much of that speculation to rest this week by admitting he fears he will not to be re-elected.
“I have no illusions that I will lose my seat,” Dep Fahey told the Galway Advertiser. “If the opinion polls are correct, and based on the figures they are showing, it is very likely Fianna Fáil may come back with only one seat in Galway West with Éamon Ó Cuív.”
Fianna Fáil normally never contemplates defeat, but such is the political climate right now that Dep Fahey admitted that the Government will lose the next election. “There is going to be a change of government and Fine Gael and Labour are going to be in power after the next election,” he said.
Dep Fahey said the important task now must be the passing of the Budget and the Four Year Plan, which was announced yesterday afternoon - although he acknowledges that supporting these harsh measures will play a major role in costing him his seat.
“Fianna Fáil now has to do the right thing irrespective of the consequences for the party. I am prepared to stand up and back the measures in the Budget and the Four Year Plan and I know it will cost me votes and may even lose me my seat. But I will still fight to retain it and I have worked hard for this constituency.”
Dep Fahey argues that passing the Budget and the Four Year Plan is the essential first step in the State’s economic recovery.
“Given what has happened in the bond markets, with our credit rating being downgraded, and the serious situation with the banks, it is important we get this passed,” he said.
With the Government’s wafer thin majority, the instability of relying on Independents, and the possibly of a revolt in the Fianna Fáil backbenches, there is a possibility that the Budget could be defeated. However Dep Fahey said opposing the Budget would be an act of “economic treason”.
“Any kind of instability will weaken the country further and in a dramatic way, so everyone in politics has an important responsibility to pass these measures,” he said, “but I am confident it will be passed. I think it would be economic treason if it wasn’t. There is no other option. The fundamental interests of this country are at stake.”
Dep Fahey also called on Fine Gael and Labour to “act responsibly” over their response to the Budget