THE Fianna Fáil organisation in Mayo is not looking beyond next year’s local elections, The Connaught Telegraph can reveal.
While senior party officials are buoyed by recent opinion poll results which indicated an 11-point increase in its popularity from the low of 16 per cent in the 2011 general election, the focus is clearly on making gains in the 2014 district and county council elections.
Fine Gael still holds the upperhand with a 47 per cent share of support, but the figure represents an 18 per cent decline in the space of two years.
Support for Sinn Féin had more than doubled to 14 per cent since the last general election while the popularity of non-party representatives has slipped by over nine points to just eight per cent.
The trend suggests Fine Gael is in danger of losing a seat in the new four-seat Mayo constituency in the next general election to Fianna Fáil, although Sinn Fein’s prospects have to be taken very seriously.
However, anybody with a fair knowledge of politics in the county remain convinced that the road back to recovery remains a long and arduous one for Fianna Fáil.
The stark reality is the party holds just seven seats on the county council compared to 17 by Fine Gael. A 10-seat differential will be exceedingly difficult to close next year unless the groundwork is properly prepared.
While there are indications of resurgences in key areas like Castlebar, Ballina, Westport and Swinford, it will require a phenomenal effort to emulate Fine Gael’s 53.84 percentage rating in the 2009 local elections.
However, when the disparity between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in each of the six electoral areas is closely examined, the gulf is not quite as intimidating in each case.
The margin was greatest in Westport where Fine Gael’s support stood at 58 per cent, one of the highest of any electoral area in the country, compared to 27 per cent for Fianna Fáil.