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Three main parties and Independents expected to evenly divide most of local elections spoils

Poll suggests Dublin constituency European election will be hotly contested


Local elections

On 7th June voters go to the polls to elect their local councillors, and the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll suggests the three main parties and Independents will divide the majority of the spoils more or less evenly, with smaller parties mopping up the remaining seats.

When respondents to our poll were asked how they intend to vote in the upcoming local elections, preferences divided between Fine Gael (21 per cent), Independents (21 per cent), Fianna Fáil (20 per cent) and Sinn Féin (18 per cent).

The poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a nationally representative sample of 1,500 adults aged 18 years and upwards.

If these support levels translate on the day, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would net fewer seats than in the last local elections, while Sinn Féin would gain significantly.


Although Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will likely lose seats they will perhaps view this poll quite favourably as the prognosis would have been a lot worse if Sinn Féin’s support had not declined in recent months.

When we compare this latest poll with the comparable Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll from 2019 regionally Fine Gael seats look to be under the most pressure in the Rest of Leinster region (32 per cent in 2019 versus 20 per cent now).

Fianna Fáil are still strong in Munster (26 per cent), but significantly lower than our poll showed just before the locals in 2019 (34 per cent).

For Independent candidates it looks very much like they will hold their seats in a collective sense – polling at 21 per cent currently compared to the 20 per cent of the vote they actually achieved in the 2019 local elections.

Looking back in 2019 Sinn Féin underperformed the Ipsos B&A/Irish Times pre-election poll, perhaps losing some seats to Independents in the final weeks of the campaign. This time around Independents are polling notably higher than in 2019, so a late bump may not be a feature of this election. Something to keep an eye on.

For the smaller parties – Labour (6 per cent), the Greens (5 per cent), Social Democrats (3 per cent), People Before Profit/Solidarity (2 per cent) and Aontú (1 per cent) – their local election support levels are broadly in line with voting intentions in a general election scenario.

What drives choice in a local election is a question we put directly to poll respondents. The main reasons given are being from the local area (30 per cent), party affiliation (25 per cent), their stand on a particular issue (20 per cent) and habit/loyalty (11 per cent).

More insightful is which parties or groups rank higher on each of these reasons. On being from the local area, Fine Gael rank highest (35 per cent). Labour rank highest on party affiliation (34 per cent). For taking a stand on a particular issue, Independents/Smaller Parties rank highest (30 per cent). On habit/loyalty Fianna Fáil are way ahead (27 per cent).

On being from the local area, Sinn Féin rank substantially lower than other parties or groups at 16 per cent. This may go some way towards explaining why Sinn Féin’s local election poll rating is five points lower than the party’s general election rating.

European Parliament elections

Also to be held on 7th June are the European Parliament elections across three constituencies and with 14 seats up for grabs – Dublin (four seats), Midlands-North-West (five seats) and South (five seats).

Ipsos B&A conducted 500 interviews in each of the three Euro constituencies between Monday and Wednesday of this week to give an indication of which candidates are best placed to take a seat. A constituency sample of 500 comes with a wider margin of error than national polls, so the findings are very much directional and not definitive. Additionally, we need to keep in mind that “not sure” responses are always high at this stage in European Parliament elections.

The Dublin poll points to a hotly contested election. Barry Andrews (FF – 18 per cent) looks likely to get one of the four seats. Lynn Boylan (SF – 15 per cent) is also well positioned to win back her seat, with transfers from Daithi Doolan coming into play if required.

The remaining two Dublin seats could go to any number of candidates, with Regina Doherty (FG – 12 per cent) leading the race, followed by Aodhan O’Riordain (Labour – 10 per cent). Ciaran Cuffe (Greens – 8 per cent) and Clare Daly (Independents 4 Change – 6 per cent) are at risk of losing their seats but still strong contenders. Very much still in the race also are Brid Smith (PBP/Solidarity – 6 per cent), Sinead Gibney (SD – 5 per cent) and Niall Boylan (Independent Ireland – 5 per cent).

The Midlands-North-West poll is topped by incumbent MEP Ming Flanagan (Ind – 11 per cent), followed closely by two Fianna Fáil candidates (Barry Cowen – 10 per cent; and Lisa Chambers – 9 per cent) and two from Fine Gael (Maria Walsh – 10 per cent; and Nina Carberry – 9 per cent).

Sinn Féin will hope to take a seat with Michelle Gildernew on 8 per cent and Chris MacManus on 6 per cent.

A fifth seat could go to a second-choice candidate from one of the main parties, or an Independent, with former RTÉ correspondent Ciaran Mullooly polling a solid 6 per cent. Peter Casey (Ind – 4 per cent) cannot be ruled out, nor can Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín (4 per cent).

The South Constituency is also a five-seater, with the first two seats to be taken, probably, by Fine Gael (sitting MEP Sean Kelly – 23 per cent) and Fianna Fáil (sitting MEP Billy Kelleher – 18 per cent).

Sinn Féin will expect to secure a seat (Kathleen Funchion – 11 per cent).

The fourth and fifth seats will go down to the wire. Fianna Fáil (Cynthia Ni Mhurchu – 7 per cent), Sinn Féin (Paul Gavan – 6 per cent) or Fine Gael (John Mullins – 4 per cent) may steal a second seat for their party, while Niamh Hourigan (5 per cent) will be looking to bag a seat for Labour.

Also in the mix for a seat in the South are Derek Blighe (Ireland First – 4 per cent) and Michael McNamara (Ind – 4 per cent).

Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change) and Grace O’Sullivan (Greens) are both on 3 per cent and in a fight to maintain their MEP status.

Needless to say it is early days in the European Parliament campaign and surges are not uncommon so no candidate can we written off at this stage. Like with referendums, voters may not engage with the election until closer to polling day: almost one in three (30 per cent) of those polled are still not sure how they will vote. The race is far from over.