Fianna Fáil has lashed pollsters for a “disheartening” pre-election poll in Galway West that proved to be “inaccurate”.
Former City Councillor, John Connolly, who surprised many with his performance in the general election, questioned the validity of the IPSOS/MRBI opinion poll carried out for TG4 and published just days before voters went to the polls.
The opinion poll put him at just 4%, which he believes was inaccurate but may have swayed Fianna Fáil voters towards sitting TD Éamon Ó Cuív.
Mr Connolly said: “The opinion poll that was published during the week certainly didn’t help us. You’d have to seriously question its accuracy, when you see what has happened here today. I can’t even recall what they got right in that poll. Mary (Hoade) at 4% is about right. But they had Sean (Kyne) at a similar percentage as Éamon (Ó Cuív) but as we see he’s a good bit behind him. And they had John O’Mahony on 11% and he’s not hitting anywhere near that.
“They had (Noel) Grealish written off. To be honest I question if companies should be publishing opinion polls without really showing the validity behind it. A sample of 500 is too small for starters. And when you’re facing down the barrel of an election, getting news about an opinion poll like that was really disheartening.
The timing of it wasn’t the biggest issue. It was close to polling day but certainly it was disheartening for my supporters. And certainly it may have been disheartening for Fianna Fáil voters in the city who said ‘look, we want to make sure Eamon gets over the line and make sure we hold onto our one seat’. But it was never in doubt. It helped Grealish, it instilled a small degree of fear into his supporters.
“It was deflating for me personally, it was deflating for the people who were with me and there was a certain element of Fianna Fáil supporters who said ‘well, we’ll stick with the tried and trusted just in case’. I just think that standards need to apply to opinion polls and there needs to be some sort of regulation of work like that on opinion polls”
The TG4/Ipsos opinion poll results
Éamon Ó Cuív (Fianna Fáil) 13%
Seán Kyne (Fine Gael) 13%
John O’Mahony (Fine Gael) 11%
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Féin) 11%
Catherine Connolly (Independent) 8%
Noel Grealish (Neamhspleách) 7%
Hildegarde Naughton (Fine Gael) 6%
Derek Nolan (Labour) 6%
Niall Ó Tuathail (Social Democrats) 6%
Mary Hoade (Fianna Fáil) 4%
John Connolly (Fianna Fáil) 4%
Fidelma Healy Eames (Ind) 3%
Nicola Daveron (Renua) 2%
Mike Cubbard (Independent) 2%
Seamus Sheridan (Green) 2%
Tommy Holohan (AAA-PBP) 2%
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.