Fianna Fáil’s three Galway West candidates have overcome the first obstacle in their bids for Dáil seats, as party leader Micheál Martin last evening (Wednesday ) insisted that none of them would be asked to drop out of the race.
Despite this the party’s candidates - Éamon Ó Cuív, Frank Fahey, and Michael J Crowe still face a Herculean task to maintain the party’s two seats in the constituency.
Over the last number of days there has been intense speculation that Fianna Fáil was re-thinking its decision to run three candidates in Galway West and was considering asking one of them to stand down.
As Éamon Ó Cuív is widely seen as certain to be re-elected, focus fell on Frank Fahey and councillor Michael J Crowe and it was widely believed that one of them would be asked to withdraw from the election race.
The thinking behind it was that Fianna Fáil support was so low the party simply would not have enough votes to maintain a second seat in Galway West and that running three would split the vote and jeopardise the party’s Dáil presence in the area.
Further legs were given to this speculation by the fact that Fianna Fáil is running two candidates in most constituencies - except Galway West and Laois-Offaly - and because of Dep Martin’s intention to look at the line ups in certain constituencies.
However Dep Martin quashed all speculation that Fianna Fáil would be asking any candidate to step aside during a short walkabout of Galway city yesterday. He insisted that Éamon Ó Cuív, Frank Fahey, and Cllr Crowe would be running. He added: “This is a large constituency and as I have said repeatedly, every constituency is different.”
A further sign that Fianna Fáil is intent on running three in Galway West came almost immediately after the announcement that the 30th Dáil had been dissolved and that the election was to be held on February 25.
Early this morning, posters for Frank Fahey could be seen all over Galway city centre, sending out the clear message that Dep Fahey was not going to be departing the scene in advance of the election. Similarly Cllr Crowe has already been out canvassing, sending a similar message to sceptics.
Fianna Fáil has consistently been at 16 per cent in the polls over the last number of months. Galway West is a five seat constituency and the quota to be elected is 16 per cent. As a result, the party is looking at dropping from two seats to one on polling day.
While polls can often underestimate the level of Fianna Fáil support, in order to win two seats, the party would need 30 to 33 per cent, and it is impossible to see how it can recover that level of public backing in only four weeks.
Dep Fahey and Cllr Crowe may have survived any attempt to stop them running in Election 2011 but they may not survive the wrath of the electorate on February 25.