The Voice Of A Generation

Constituency Preview: Midlands-North-West

The first in a series of articles ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections.

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On Friday, the 24th Of May, the Republic Of Ireland will go to the polls to elect our
Members of the European Parliament.

Countries across the European Union will vote in elections, ranging from the 23rd up
until the 26th of May. Ireland is unique, in being the only country going to the polls on
the 24th. While the Czech Republic begin voting on the 24th, polls stay open until the
afternoon of the 25th.

The Republic Of Ireland is divided into 3 constituencies; Dublin, Ireland South and
Midlands-North-West. In this article, I shall preview the Midlands-North-West
constituency.

Midlands-North-West is a vast constituency, ranging from Donegal to Kildare and
from Galway to Louth. According to the European Parliament Constituency
Committee Report on European Parliament Constituencies 2018, this substantial
constituency has a large population of 1,686,175 people, with 421,544 people per
MEP.

Midlands-North-West is the only constituency not left in limbo at the prospect of
European Elections going ahead across the water, as it wasn’t gaining or losing any
seats due to Britain leaving the E.U. Therefore, we don’t have to contend with any
added measures, such as a second count or second quota, in Midlands-North-West.

There are 4 seats up for grabs in Midlands-North-West, with 3 of the sitting MEPs
(Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mairéad McGuinness and Matt Carthy) running again. Marian
Harkin MEP will not seek re-election after 15 years serving the people in the
European Parliament.

Last time out, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Non-Party) topped the poll, getting elected on
the second count. Mairéad McGuinness MEP (Fine Gael) followed, reaching the
quota on the fifth count, after receiving favourable transfers from her Fine Gael
running mate, but also from Fine Gael’s former coalition partner, the Labour Party.
Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin) won the third seat while Marian Harkin MEP (Non-Party)
beat fellow sitting MEP, Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher (Fianna Fáil), to the final seat.

Mairéad McGuinness has gained a high profile as a result of frequent media
appearances regarding Brexit in her role as Vice President of the European
Parliament. I believe she has a safe seat, and won’t have any difficulty getting re-
elected.

The outspoken poll-topper, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, should also be safe, given his
colourful character is well-known across the constituency. Although it may be
interesting to see if the candidacy of Peter Casey has any effect on his vote, I don’t
believe it will have a detrimental impact on Ming’s electoral prospects.

Matt Carthy, the last of the sitting MEPs standing for re-election, should also hold his
seat. The Sinn Féin vote is strong enough across the constituency to get him across
the line, although it seems Carthy has his eyes on Leinster House as he was
recently selected as a Sinn Féin candidate in Cavan – Monaghan for the next
General Election meaning his stay in Brussels could be short-lived.

This leaves 14 candidates to fight for the final seat. Despite this long list, I’m only
interested in 3 of them with that fourth seat in mind.

Fianna Fáil have selected 2 sitting TDs – Brendan Smith (Cavan – Monaghan) and
Anne Rabbitte (Galway East). Firstly, I believe they’ve made a mistake choosing 2
candidates, which is where they went wrong in 2014 too. Neither of the candidates
strike me as being overly strong, while it’s also led me to question where the up and
coming talent in Fianna Fáil is. If it’s there, why aren’t they running instead of the 2
sitting TDs? Despite this, transfers between the two could be the difference between
winning the fourth seat or missing out once again.

The other heavyweight candidate is Peter Casey, who’s back again after finishing
runner-up to Michael D. Higgins in the recent Presidential Election. Casey is a
wildcard and could come out with anything on this campaign trail. He is an unknown
quantity, but after gaining a platform during the Presidential Election he could well
have success here. He won 23.5% of the vote during the Presidential Election and
an average of 23.8% across the constituencies of Midlands-North-West. I expected
this figure to be higher, although the more liberal East of the constituency brought
this figure down with weaker support such as 16.0% in Louth and 19.6% in Cavan –
Monaghan.

I believe Peter Casey will take votes from Fianna Fáil more than any other
candidate, although he is capable of eating into all candidates’ votes. Despite this, I
feel Fianna Fáil’s transfers may be enough to get Brendan Smith over the line and
into Brussels.

Prediction*: Mairéad McGuinness (FG/EPP), Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (NP/GUE-NGL),
Matt Carthy (SF/GUE-NGL), Brendan Smith (FF/ALDE)

*Prediction as of 18/4/19 and subject to change.

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