The local election results have provided plenty of drama already, as we enter the second day of counting. While we await first count results in a number of electoral areas and counties, the pattern that has emerged seems to confirm the trends we picked up in the poll of farmers from two weeks ago. The rise of the independents at the expense of Sinn Fein has been apparent for some time now, as was the “Harris hop” for Fine Gael.

But the extent of Sinn Féin’s slide has taken everyone by surprise. With half the first preference votes confirmed, Sinn Féin are on 11%, way below the predictions, or more accurately snapshots, from the last couple of opinion polls. While support had fallen from the heady highs of most of the last four years, the "poll of polls" showed they were still north of 20%. This had them ahead of Fianna Fail and battling with Fine Gael to be the largest party in the country, as they were in the 2020 general election.


However, the Farmers Journal survey saw Sinn Féin lose more than half their vote, slumping to 6% from 13% at Christmas. I wrote in my commentary that this was a near collapse in Sinn Féin support. I also observed that farmer support for Sinn Féin has more or less ran at half their support level among the general public. It seems that this will be repeated again.

The independents are the main beneficiaries of the tide for Sinn Féin going out. In the local elections, if Independents were a party, they would be fighting to be the largest party in the country, with 20% support in the local electoral areas that have returned first counts so far.

Euro elections

While we only have tallies from where boxes were opened around the country for the European elections, it seems like the farmer vote has again been a decent guide to how Ireland is voting. This is particularly true in Midlands North West, where indications are that Maria Walsh and Luke Ming Flanagan are on course to retain their seats. Barry Cowen seems likely to join them, while the last two seats will be between Ciaran Mullooly, Sinn Féin candidates Michelle Gildernew and Chris McManus, and Nina Carberry, giving Fine Gael a chance of retaining both seats in this constituency, which seemed a pipedream a couple of months ago. Peadar Tóibín might fall short of a seat, but his transfers, which will be sizeable, could be decisive.

In Ireland South, our poll had Billy Kelleher and Sean Kelly miles clear, and it is generally agreed from the tallies the two sitting MEPs are safe. Michael McNamara seems to have an outstanding chance of gaining a seat, with Sinn Féin still expected to pick up one of the remaining three seats. If they don’t break 17% of first preference support, they will need a very effective transfer between Paul Gavan and Kathleen Funchion to make sure they do. Mick Wallace, perhaps benefitting from being one of the few left-of-centre candidates in a field that was lob-sided, is in contention to retain his seat, but Grace O’Sullivan is in difficulty, it seems. The other contenders with Funchion and Wallace will probably be Cynthia Ní Murchú and perhaps Eddie Punch.

In Dublin, the Irish Farmers Journal polled less than 50 farmers, but even so, their support for Barry Andrews and Regina Doherty is being echoed in the tallies so far. Ciaran Cuffe and Claire Daly face a battle to retain their seats, it seems, with Lynn Boylan, Niall Boylan, Labour’s Aodhan O’Riordain and PBP/Solidarity’s Bríd Smith all being mentioned.