FIANNA Fáil is at real risk of losing its European Parliament seat in Dublin in what would be a devastating personal blow to Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
With the party set for heavy losses in the local elections, Mr Cowen needs to retain all of FF’s four seats in Europe to fend off questions about his leadership.
But a new poll shows FF MEP Eoin Ryan in serious danger of losing his seat in Dublin, having slipped two points to just 9% since the last poll two weeks ago.
By contrast, Fine Gael (FG) MEP Gay Mitchell is set to be comfortably re-elected, having seen his support rise two points to 28%, as is Labour MEP Proinsias de Rossa, who is up four to 25%.
Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has slipped three to 11%, but remains the front-runner for the third and final seat in the constituency. She is set to benefit from left-wing transfers from Socialist Party candidate Joe Higgins, who is polling strongly at 9%, up two.
FF should hold its seats in the other three constituencies, however, according to the TNS MRBI/Irish Times poll. And Mr Cowen insisted yesterday he would continue in office no matter what the outcome of next Friday’s elections.
In Ireland South, party MEP Brian Crowley is set to comfortably top the poll, having seen his support rise three points to 30%. He will be followed by FG’s Sean Kelly, down one to 16%.
The third and final seat will be a tightly fought contest between Independent MEP Kathy Sinnot, up two to 14%; Labour candidate Alan Kelly, down one to 12%; FG MEP Colm Burke, unchanged at 10%; and Sinn Féin’s Toireasa Ferris, down two to 10%.
In Ireland North West, FF’s Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher is set to retain the seat vacated by the party’s outgoing MEP Seán Ó Neachtain, having seen his support rise one point to 20%.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin will also retain her seat, having also gone up one point to 19%, as should FG MEP Jim Higgins, even though he is down three points to 17%. Libertas founder Declan Ganley is unchanged at 9%.
In Ireland East, FG MEP Máiréad McGuinness will top the poll, although she is down four to 29%. FF MEP Liam Aylward is up one to 20%, and should also retain his seat.
But the real story in this constituency is the performance of Nessa Childers, who has gone up four points to 21% and is set to win a seat for Labour.
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