Groundhog Day in Laois Politics

Groundhog Day in Laois Politics

Amid the convulsions that have attended in the wake of the 2016 General Election Laois stands out on a number of counts. Firstly the Laois constituency saw its one Fianna Fail candidate outgoing TD Sean Fleming top the poll with almost 40% of the first preferences from around the newly-minted constituency. On a good day for Fianna Fail overall Fleming’s share of the popular vote points to the fact that his is probably the safest seat for any incumbent in the whole of the country.

Indeed it begs the question did Fianna Fail slip up badly by not running another candidate in the Laois constituency.

Coming up behind poll-topping Fleming are the other two outgoing TD’s; Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan and Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley. Both these candidates are separated by the electoral equivalent of tissue paper as the two incumbents polled a little over 20% apiece. With that level of first preferences both Stanley and Flanagan will be returned to the new Dáil Éireann very soon after Fleming’s coronation.

An interesting feature of this mainly predictable constituency was the heartening performance of Flanagan’s running mate Thomasina Connell. With a share of the first preference votes hovering around the 10% mark the first-timer candidate has marked out her territory and must be considered to be Flanagan’s successor in waiting. The Ballybrittas lady has certainly made her mark in her maiden political campaign.

The showing of the other female candidate; Sinead Moore of the Green Party, was also very respectable. With a share of approximately 4% of the first preference votes cast the political novice has also shown the way for other new female public representatives.

In keeping with the Labour collapse around the nation Senator John Whelan amassed less than 7% of the popular vote. With the collapse of the Stagg and Wall Labour dynasties in the neighbouring Kildare constituencies the local Labour party supporters in the general area will be at a very low ebb.