Mayo’s potential Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has challenged the electorate to back his party and elect three Fine Gael TDs from his home constituency.
As the general election year began, the Fine Gael leader told The Mayo News he is confident of the party’s chances locally given the big support in the polls.
“I think we will win the three here. We got three seats in ’97 with 48 per cent of the vote. Internal polls show that we are averaging between 53 and 56 per cent … We are well into three-seat country,” he said.
The TD believes it will come down to transfers, though he admitted that the details of a vote pact and management strategy had yet to be worked out within the party in Mayo. Besides this he said the voters have a big incentive to vote FG.
“There is an unknown factor here that nobody can gauge, and that is for the first time there are bigger stakes. They [voters] are looking at the levers of power being vested down here. If they don’t understand that they’d want their heads examined,” said the Islandeady man.
As for the party’s chances nationally, he said just one poll last year showed the party losing ground. Despite this he said the opinion polls show that the party is doing well.
“Fine Gael has never been in a pre-election position as good as they are in now,” said Mr Kenny.
He said his party was less popular in the national opinion polls prior to the 1997 General Election when it was the Government party.
The TD declined to say which seats his party would be targeting in Mayo but given that Fianna Fáil had four seats in Mayo at one stage he expects them to take a seat in the constituency.
If he is factoring in one seat for the Government party it appears that Mr Kenny is targeting one of the seats currently occupied by the two Independent TDs - Dr Jerry Cowley and Beverly Flynn.
However, while, Mayo’s other FG deputy, Mr Michael Ring is favourite to take a second seat, neither Michelle Mulherin nor John O’Mahony have polled well for Fine Gael so far.