So which candidates are stalking the web?

Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív is the most active Galway politician on the internet according to a new website created by an NUI, Galway student.

The site, www.td2011.com was created by NUIG’s David Dolphin, a quantum information processing research student, web application developer, and mechanical engineering graduate.

The site shows the online visibility of the more than 400 candidates standing for election, through their use of social networks, blogs, and mentions of them in on-line news articles and websites, through searches on Google. Results are updated daily at noon.

The site shows that Éamon Ó Cuív has by far the greatest on-line presence of 30 candidates across the two Galway constituencies, having featured on 883 sites, 120 blog posts, and in 104 news stories.

The on-line presence of candidates and politicians has mushroomed over the last few years, with Facebook in particular being a popular place to establish an internet presence. Most of the prominent Galway politicians have a Facebook page and Éamon Ó Cuív’s presence on the site has not gone unnoticed.

Indeed as one close friend of mine recently said: “I love Éamon Ó Cuív’s simple use of Facebook to update people daily of his canvassing programme. ‘Beidh mé ag canbhasáil inniu i gceantar Uachtar Árd/I will be canvassing today in the Oughterard area.’ Is it a means of enabling people in the relevant areas to get prepared? Woof, woof, woof, woof...”

The latter part being of course a reference to people’s temptation/ threats to set the dog on any FF candidate who dares to step onto their property.

Éamon Ó Cuív is far ahead of his next rival, Fine Gael’s Fidelma Healy Eames, who is at 54. Despite being mentioned on 13,000 sites she has less presence on blog posts (59 ) and news stories (25 ). Close behind her is Fianna Fáil’s Frank Fahey at 58, FG’s Brian Walsh at 64, Labour’s Derek Nolan at 68, and Independents Catherine Connolly and Noel Grealish at 71 and 81 respectively.

Interestingly, with the exception of Dep Fahey, the other six candidates are seen as being the main contenders for the five Galway West seats. Dep Fahey’s high showing is possibly due to his national prominence, his determined campaigning, and the media concentration on him due to the likelihood of his being among the high profile casualties on Friday.

The remaining candidates rankings are SF’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (95 ), FG’s Hildegarde Naughton (100 ), Independent Eamon Walsh (121 ), FF’s Michael J Crowe (123 ), the Green’s Niall Ó Brolcháin (124 ), FG’s Sean Kyne (131 ), and Independents Mike Cubbard (196 ), Thomas Welby (264 ), Uinseann Holmes (287 ), and Thomas King (359 )

The internet presence of the Galway East candidates is far less than their Galway West counterparts and consequently they feature much lower down the rankings.

The highest entry for Galway East is Independent councillor Sean Canney at 91, being featured on 517 sites, five blog posts, and in 17 news stories.

His nearest rival is Labour’s two Galway East candidates Lorraine Higgins (116 ) and Colm Keaveney (133 ). The remaining positions are FF’s Michael F Dolan (139 ), FG’s Ciaran Cannon (216 ), SF’s Dermot Connolly (217 ), Independent Tim Broderick (219 ), FG’s Tom McHugh (224 ), FG’s Jimmy McClearn (225 ), FF’s Michael Kitt (249 ), FG’s Paul Connaughton (358 ), and the Green’s Ciaran Kennedy (402 ), and Independent Emer O’Donnell (404 ).

Unlike in Galway West, where the rankings somewhat resemble how the votes are expected to pan out, the Galway East on-line presence gives no such indications. Cllr Connaughton is by far the favourite to top the poll, despite having one of the lowest internet presences in the State, according to td2011.com Galway politicians feature strongly on another internet poll from www.kildarestreet.com, on which Oireachtas members spoke most in either the Dáil or Séanad.

The results show that Sen Ó Brolcháin spoke 138 times, compared with 126 for Labour’s Michael D Higgins, 116 for Sen Fidelma Healy Eames, 94 for Fine Gael’s Pádraic McCormack, 80 for Éamon Ó Cuív, 19 for Frank Fahey, and just three for Noel Grealish.

“I have always worked hard for the people of Galway,” said Sen Ó Brolcháin. “I have put my heart and soul into it and am delighted that this is reflected in the latest figures, which were compiled independently by kildarestreet.com

However not everyone is convinced that speaking so much in the Seanad (which Fine Gael plans to get rid of given half the chance ) is all that wonderful. No sooner had Sen Ó Brolcháin announced his news on Facebook than he was greeted by the response: “You made 138 speeches in the Dáil? Wow! Oh actually you mean the Senate? That doesn’t count.”

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