FF foothold in Monaghan under pressure as FG go for 3 and SF aim for 2

18 February 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Change is in the political air over Ireland, and big time, as the hard-pressed voting public prepares to inflict a damning indictment on those who presided over the collapse of the economy and subsequent banking disaster.
At a national level there’s no escaping the fact that the politicians bracing themselves for the upcoming electoral whirlwind are almost invariably of the Fianna Fáil variety, peppered here and there with a handful of Greens, whose efforts to distance themselves from the fiasco appear as futile as their earlier attempts to hold the reins on their unruly big brother in government.
One school of thought would argue that current election frenzy amounts to little more than a bizarre side show, given that the broken economy and seemingly insurmountable mountain of debt will still be there when the dust settles. To the victor goes the spoils.
But there are many who will also be anxious that the party or parties that find themselves in the driving seat when the 31st Dáil sets its course will have at least some sense of purpose and direction when trying the steer the country back from the brink.
On the local front, the upshot is that in many constituencies the punters will be guided to a greater extent by the wider national picture than they might have been in the past.
But will this be the case in Cavan/Monaghan, where diehard voting traditions have often ensured fairly predictable results, regardless of the prevailing national winds? Indeed, it was only with the Sinn Féin breakthrough in 1997 that the long-standing “3FF–2FG” mould was broken (it was even further shaken up with the election of Paudge Connolly as an independent in 2002).
But is another seismic shift in the air over  Cavan/Monaghan this time out, reflecting what appears to be in the offing nationwide?
Will Sinn Féin break new ground again, securing a second constituency seat for the party for the first time in the modern era? Or is Fine Gael locally poised to benefit from a national tidal wave and turn the old share of the spoils on its head by sending three representatives up to Leinster House? Or will Fianna Fáil benefit in this corner of the country from a latent conservatism and core support that, if properly managed, could see it hold on to the two seats its sense of pride almost demands?
Or is it possible that the ground has shifted so far that none of the above will come to pass, and that one of the independents now in the fray will come up with a formula attractive enough to put them in the running for the last seat?
While it has to be said that the latter scenario seems pretty unlikely, the one certainty is that at least two new faces will be representing Cavan/Monaghan when the new Dáil sits, with veteran TDs Dr Rory O’Hanlon and Seymour Crawford stepping down.

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