Fianna Fáil headquarters has added Daithí Ó Donnabháin to the ballot paper in the three-seater, along with outgoing TD Michael Moynihan from Kiskeam, who was selected at a convention last month. The move may have been an effort to prevent a clean sweep by Fine Gael and Labour, as the solicitor lives in Ovens and grew up in Ballincollig, the base of retiring TD, Batt O’Keeffe.
But although Fianna Fáil could have been trying to reduce Mr Canty’s share of the Ballincollig vote, he said the move may work in his favour.
“He might bring out a few extra Fianna Fáil voters in the area who might not have bothered otherwise [now that Batt O’Keeffe is not standing]. So hopefully some of them will give me their number 2 or 3 as another local candidate.”
Mr Ó Donnabháin, 30, said he should not be seen as an also-ran, given a strong traditional FF vote in the area and people’s positive reaction to him as a young candidate.
“This election is going to be as much about personality as about political parties, and a lot of younger people who have never had much interest in politics are offering their support.”
Mr Moynihan was elected a close second to FG’s Michael Creed in May 2007, with 10,146 first preferences, but he is taking nothing for granted, given the collapse in FF popularity.
“I’ll be fighting tooth and nail for every vote I can get. I welcome Daithí onto the ticket, it’s a real challenge, there’s no doubt about it. The party decided to put him on the ticket, [Ballincollig] is a huge urban area that needs to be contested,” he said.
While the chances of two FF seats in Cork North West are close to none, it could be viewed that a party vote in Ballincollig might prevent Macroom-based Labour town and county councillor Martin Coughlan getting elected at Mr Moynihan’s expense with the help of transfers from votes that would otherwise go to Mr Canty.
Mr Coughlan got less than 5% in the 2007 general election first count, but could be in the running this time through a combination of Labour’s national rise in support and strong transfers from Mr Canty, Mr Creed and Mallow-based FG candidate Áine Collins.