Sinn Féin and Renua Ireland have both insisted they are in pole position to claim the fifth seat in the general election after positive showings in the Carlow Kilkenny byelection.
Party leaders Gerry Adams and Lucinda Creighton made the separate claims for the coveted Dáil seat after finishing a respectable third and fourth in the poll.
In the 2011 general election, Labour’s rural affairs minister Ann Phelan took the first seat, Fine Gael swept the board with three, and Fianna Fáil held one,
On Saturday, Sinn Féin received 16% of first preferences and Renua 9.6%, with their candidates — councillors Kathleen Funchion and Patrick McKee — taking third and fourth spots.
And with Labour predicted to struggle to hold onto the position at the next general election, Sinn Féin and Renua both believe their byelection showing means they are ready to swoop.
“We can’t take it for granted, but if that vote comes out again then the least we will have done is carve out the potential for a seat,” Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said about the constituency, which until 2009 never had a Sinn Féin councillor or TD.
Renua leader Lucinda Creighton said she was “absolutely delighted” with her candidate Patrick McKee’s performance.
“The party was four days old when the writ was moved,” she said. “It’s just the beginning for us. I expect that we will win a seat in Carlow Kilkenny.”
Mr McKee rejected suggestions that he could have been closer in the byelection if he had chosen Sinn Féin instead of Renua on leaving Fianna Fáil — a move he still denies he ever sought.
His party’s director of elections, Billy Timmins, said that, with the Government parties “down 28% combined on 2011, you have to say there’s a seat up for grabs”.
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