Poll shows Noel Grealish may struggle to keep his seat in Galway West

Poll shows Noel Grealish may struggle to keep his seat in Galway West

Independent TD Noel Grealish is on course to lose his Dáil seat while the Social Democrats or Greens could make a breakthrough and win a place in Galway West.

Mr Grealish recently faced strong criticism for claiming African asylum seekers were “economic migrants” who came to Ireland to "sponge off the system". He has also supported the Government in a number of key Dáil votes, including opposition confidence motions against ministers.

However, according to a TG4 Ipsos/MRBI this evening, Mr Grealish will likely struggle to retain his seat and is currently in eighth place in the five-seater, when it comes to support.

The indications in the poll show all five sitting TDs in the constituency could be set for a battle to hold their seats, with only Fine Gael's Hildegarde Naughton getting anywhere close to the 17% quota there.

The poll puts potentially up to 10 of the 15 candidates running in Galway West in contention for a place. But it still looks like it will be a scramble and transfers will be vital after polling day on February 8.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil look in contention to take at least one seat each for their parties. According to the poll, support for Ms Naughton is highest on 13%, almost double her first preference vote of 7% in the 2016 general election.

Fianna Fáil 's Eamon O'Cuiv should also comfortably get elected, with support at 12%. This is slightly lower than the 15% he won in 2016.

But Niall Ó Tuathail from the Social Democrats or Pauline O'Reilly, the Green Party spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, could both cause the biggest upset in Galway West, with the poll giving them 12% and 10% respectively.

This could put both in contention to win the third and fourth seats. Nonetheless, support for O'Reilly is at the same level as that for government chief whip and the second sitting Fine Gael TD in the constituency, Sean Kyne.

Transfers could be crucial from his running mate Ms Naughton, if Mr Kyne hopes to secure the fifth seat or do better.

Just trailing Kyne, according to the poll, is Independent Catherine Connolly on 9%, who could still win back her seat once transfers start coming her way during the count.

This, like many other constituencies in the election, will also reveal a lot about who will lead the next government if either of the two main parties can win or come close to winning that all-important second seat.

While support for Fine Gael altogether in Galway West is 23% and 20% for Fianna Fáil, both parties fall well short of two quotas. This could make it an especially tough ask for Fianna Fáil to get Galway City Councillor Ollie Crowe across the line, with his individual support at just 8%.

But sitting TD Noel Grealish, on just 7%, down from 11% in the last election, also faces an uphill battle to retain his seat and could likely lose out. There are other candidates at that level or just lower, according to the poll, including Sinn Féin's Mairead Farrell and Labour's Niall McNelis.

Galway West is always hotly contested. It was count nine when the first TD was elected there in 2016, and Count 13 before anyone else was elected.

Since 2016, the constituency boundaries have been tweaked once again with some areas transferred to Galway East and some Mayo areas transferred back to Mayo. Some 15 names are on the ballot this time around and the competition for seats will be even more intense. As ever, transfers will be vital.

The TG4 Ipsos MRBI Galway West constituency poll was conducted among a sample of 525 adults aged 18 upwards. Interviewing took place on January 24 and 26 and the margin of error was 4% in the poll.

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