Noel Grealish could find himself in a close battle to hold his Dáil seat in Galway West with the Social Democrats and the Greens firmly in contention in the constituency, an opinion poll suggests.
The TG4/Ipsos MRBI constituency poll for the five-seat constituency shows Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats and Pauline O’Reilly of the Green Party running ahead of Mr Grealish, who has been a TD since 2002.
The Carnmore-based Independent has drawn controversy as a result of provocative comments he made describing African immigrants as “spongers” and suggesting money being repatriated to Nigeria by immigrants might not be legitimate.
Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton drew most support in the poll at 13 per cent, followed by Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Ó Cuív on 12 per cent. In a five seater, the quota is just short of 17 per cent of the vote.
Mr Ó Tuathail, a technology entrepreneur, is running at 12 per cent. He polled well in the 2016 general election but fell short in the end and decided not to run in the local elections, which some local commentators considered a gamble.
Ms O’Reilly, one of two Green Party members elected to Galway City Council last year, is on 10 per cent, the same level as Seán Kyne, the Fine Gael TD who is the Government chief whip.
Independent TD Catherine Connolly is on 9 per cent, while the second Fianna Fáil candidate Ollie Crowe is on 8 per cent.
Mr Grealish is on 7 per cent, the same level of support as Mairéad Farrell of Sinn Féin.
Ms Farrell, who lost her council seat last summer, is running 4 per cent shy of the 2016 general election result for her party, and 13 per cent short of its national opinion poll standing. On these figures, she would be considered a long shot.
Labour councillor Niall McNelis is on 5 per cent, with Mike Cubbard (Independent), Joe Loughnane (Solidarity-People Before Profit) and Cormac Ó Corcoráin (Aontú) polling between 3 per cent and 1 per cent.
The poll was conducted among a sample of 525 adults aged 18 upwards and interviews took place on January 24th and 26th.
On these figures Fine Gael and Fianna Fáíl would take the first two seats. Their second candidates would also be in the mix for the remaining three seats along with Ms Connolly, Mr Ó Tuathail, Ms O’Reilly and Mr Grealish.
The margin of error is 4 per cent, which makes the last seats very hard to call.
In a similar poll conducted in 2016, Mr Grealish also received 7 per cent support but got 11 per cent of the votes in the general election, which saw him comfortably re-elected.
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