Updated: 13/02/17 : 05:18:51
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Snap election would see same battleground in Sligo

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

A SNAP election called this week would see the same constituency components as last year for voters in Sligo.

The Boundaries Commission has yet to rule on changes, if any, in the local electoral map.

That would mean four Dáil seats on offer once again to voters in counties Sligo, Leitrim, west Cavan and south Donegal.

That was the shape of the electorate configuration hereabouts when the country last voted in a general election, in February 2016.

The four current local TDs are: Martin Kenny of Sinn Fein, Tony McLoughlin of Fine Gael along with Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon of Fianna Fáil.

Seven Days

An election could follow if the Government is defeated in the Dail this week on a ''Confidence'' issue.

However, there is precedent for a new Taoiseach to emerge without an election.

The Dáil will debate a Motion of ''No Confidence'' in the Government this week.

Sinn Fein is angry at the Cabinet's handling in the past seven days of issues around Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

New Conflict

Crucially, a new conflict of evidence emerged yesterday evening between Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald. 

The core of the row centres on 'who knew what and when' last week ahead of The Irish Examiner and RTÉ exposes of the treatment of Sgt McCabe.

Those exposes showed a State child protection agency, Tusla, and its internal shambles in the treatment of a totally innocent Sgt McCabe and his family.

That 'spat' runs the risk of the Government running out of numbers to save itself on the ''confidence'' call.

General elections in consecutive years are not that recent but not that uncommon either in Ireland.

Previous election clusters happened in 1922 and 1923, 1932 and 1933, 1937 and 1938, 1943 and 1944, 1981 and 1982.

There were two general elections in the same years, in 1927 and 1982.

Tony McLoughlin's late uncle, Joe, also faced two elections inside seven months in 1961.

Firstly, he won a by election in March 1961 and again topped the poll in Sligo in the general election of October 1961.

Fianna Fáil has consistently performed well in all elections in years ending in '7.'

Those contests include: 2007, 1997, 1987, 1957, 1937 and the party's breakthrough in the second poll of 1927.

Chances Receded

Almost quarter a century ago, the country got a new government without a general election.

That happened in circumstances which had some uncanny echoes last week.

In 1994, a Labour Party leader got a phone call from a journalist re: information not in the public domain but known by another journalist. 

The outcome then was the immediate fall of Albert Reynolds second coalition. 

Winning Back

It was replaced, without an election, by John Bruton's 'Rainbow Coalition.'

Meanwhile, Fine Gael's chances of wining back a second seat in Sligo have receded in the latest opinion poll, published yesterday, Sunday.

The party has now dropped to a 21% national share.....a full eleven points behind Fianna Fáil on 32%.

The Sunday Times poll by Behaviour & Attitudes also suggests that a second seat, in Sligo, is beyond Sinn Fein's grasp with a 19% share.

Locally, those figures would result in a 'same as you were' scenario in Sligo.

However, nationally, Fianna Fáil would be certain to add seats at the expense of Fine Gael and independents. 

There were eighteen candidates locally in last year's election.

Link: See Sligo Today 11/2/2017.