Mayo goes to the polls tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day the people of Mayo go to the polls with 15 candidates vying for their number one votes and four seats up for grabs, while a smaller hamlet in the south of the county will be voting in the Galway West constituency.

Recent polls have shown a huge surge in support nationally for Sinn Féin and a lot of interest will be paid to how their candidate, Rose Conway-Walsh, gets on when the votes are counted on Sunday in Castlebar.

Conway-Walsh has spent the last four years as a senator and is seen as an effective operator in the upper house, having previously served as a member of Mayo County Council.

In the last general election she polled 6,414 number one votes — or just over 10 per cent of the first preference votes — and finished in sixth place in the four-seater constituency, which was a massive increase on the 2,660 number ones she got in 2011; a caveat to that number is that she also had a running mate in 2011 and just under 10,000 more people voted in the Mayo constituency in that election, compared to the one four years previously, following the syphoning off of a chunk of the southern part of the county to Galway West for that election.

This will be a very different election from the last three in Mayo, given the absence of Enda Kenny from the ticket. With the former Taoiseach retiring from politics, he has thrown his support behind Alan Dillon during this election campaign and has been visibly on the stump with the Fine Gael newcomer. Dillon will be hoping that he can win a large chunk of Kenny's votes as he looks to get over the line on his first attempt.

The three sitting TDs - Fianna Fáil duo Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers and Fine Gael's Minister Michael Ring - will be favourites to hold on to their seats, while the destination of the fourth seat that is up for grabs looks to be a serious battle - with Dillon, his party running-mate, outgoing Senator Michelle Mulherin - who did hold a Dáil seat from 2011 to 2016; Sinn Féin's Conway-Walsh and Green Party's Saoirse McHugh, all looking like the runners who will be battling it out for that seat.

McHugh rose to prominence in the European Elections last year where she took over 8.5 per cent of the number one votes across the vast Midlands-North-West constituency, finishing in sixth place in the four seat constituency - she has not been afraid to rock the boat in this campaign and disagree with her party on certain issues.

The counting will get underway on Sunday morning in the Royal Theatre in Castlebar and a long day and night and even a roll into Monday could be on the cards before the final results are sorted out. If the wave that has surfed Sinn Féin to the top of recent polls continues, there could be a very different looking Mayo Dáil representation come the formation of the 33rd Dáil.

General election candidates: Fine Gael: Michael Ring, Michelle Mulherin, Alan Dillon; Fianna Fáil: Dara Calleary, Lisa Chambers; Sinn Féin: Rose Conway-Walsh; Green Party: Saoirse McHugh; People Before Profit: Joe Daly; Labour Party: Kamal Uddin; Aontú: Paul Lawless; Irish Freedom Party: Daithi O'Fallamháin; Independents: Stephen Manning, Gerry Loftus, Gráinne De Barra

 

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