Do betting odds reflect the political reality in Galway West?

Insider always raises an eyebrow when bookies issue their odds on election betting - who’s a favourite, who’s not, etc - indeed, one of Ireland’s well known bookies gets RED C to carry out polling for it regularly, hence the odds that bookmaker offers reflects the results of the polls.

However, when it comes to local bookies offering odds, Insider takes these with a grain of salt. That said, the reality is that these odds, which are often guesses or opinions rather than anything more concrete, tend to get people talking, even influence them, and thus possibly influence the eventual outcomes.

In last year’s local elections, at least one candidate who was a heavy favourite to take a seat, lost out because supporters believed the election was over, despite not a vote having been cast. It was an expensive, heart-breaking lesson, but a true reflection of how bookies’ odds and social media talk often do not amount to enough in the ballot box.

Moving on to the present day, local bookmaker John Mulholland released his General Election odds recently, and it made for interesting reading. According to The Better Bettor’s odds, Dep Brian Walsh is favourite over his party colleague, Dep Seán Kyne, to take what probably will be the only Fine Gael seat in Galway West, with Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív to top the poll. Independents Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly will get elected handily, and there is also a seat for Sinn Féin’s senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.

So that’s that then. No point in anyone else trying to get elected! Or is there? Insider thinks there is.

The parties

Let’s look at the parties as they are reflected in the odds. In Fine Gael, Insider wonders why Dep Walsh is more of a favourite than Dep Kyne? On what grounds is this based? Is it merely a wish as opposed to anything else? Based on where things stand today, you wouldn’t exactly be piling in with a wheelbarrow of money to put on any of them. However, Senator Hildegarde Naughton’s time has probably passed and the 7/1 odds offered by Mulholland’s is reflective of that.

A factor that could spoil the re-election chances of either Walsh or Kyne is if the current Mayo TD and former Galway GAA football manager, John O’Mahony, decides to hop the wall and run in Galway West. Dep Kyne’s supporters, in particular, would be very uneasy as he could do him severe damage along the N59, which is Kyne’s heartland.

Fianna Fáil supporters had to ask if they even had a second candidate in the race, as most of them do not know who Christina Nic Dhonnacha is. Some of their councillors do not know who she is, but, according to these odds, she is the second favourite FF candidate to get elected. City councillors, along with their county counterparts, are amused to say the least.

The reality is that at least one sitting councillor will have to run to have a chance of challenging for a second FF seat. Insider thinks if two or more of them run, they will be in the hunt for the last. Ms Nic Dhonnacha’s day may come, but not for some time yet. Fianna Fáil will want a strong city based candidate in the form of a Crowe or Peter Keane, along with Mary Hoade or Malachy Hanly in the county, to step forward.

In Labour, Insider has to say, the game is up. There will be no seat in Galway west for the party after the next election. The odds of 3/1 offered for Derek Nolan are, to say the least, not generous and is one reason why you rarely meet a poor bookie.

Even with little experience and a very short time on Galway City Council, Dep Nolan was in the right place at the right time in 2011. Politics is a tough business, and the blunt truth in this case is, easy come, easy go.

Sinn Fein looks odds on to take a seat. They are presently polling at c20 per cent nationally and even if there was a catastrophic drop in support, would still have a fighting chance of a seat.

Whether it will be Sen Ó Clochartaigh or another, will probably be the only question. The difference with a lot of Sinn Fein voters and other party supporters is that they vote for the party and not the individual. They are almost as disciplined as their public reps!

Independents - present day favourites

Independents, well, what can Insider say? These are the present day favourites. Polling at around 30 per cent it is difficult to see fewer than two of them getting elected in Galway West in 2016.

Insider has to admire Dep Noel Grealish. He was an ardent supporter of previous governments led by Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. He even considered joining Fianna Fáil at one stage - and here he is today, sin free, footloose, and happy. And what has he delivered for his base on the east side of Galway city? Certainly, nothing the eye can see. The thing is, if Independents really did work there would be no need for ‘alliances’ or ‘technical groups’ or the like. An Independent is supposed to be just that, not a member of a group. Go figure!

What made for further interesting reading was that some of the other Independent candidates were also relatively short odds - Eamon Walsh at 6/1 and Cllr Mike Cubbard, also at 6/1. General Election races are for the big boys and when the chips are down and the going gets tough, neither man will be at the races should they decide to throw their hats in the ring.

While some may perform respectably in local elections, there is a world of difference between the two challenges. It is the difference between third division and premier league, and as always, the ballot boxes ultimately reflects reality.


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