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Water and slamming RTÉ: Here's how Election 2014 is shaping up in Midlands North-West

It’s the biggest constituency in the European elections and candidates are battling it out for just four seats.

Midlands North West

THE MIDLAND’S NORTH-WEST is Ireland’s largest constituency in the European Elections sprawling across fifteen counties.

There are just four seats for the taking with 14 people throwing their hat in the ring for a seat at Europe.

How are things shaping up?

Last weekend’s Behaviour and Attitudes poll for The Sunday Times shows MEP Mairead McGuinness comfortably in first place at 21 per cent, followed by Luke Ming Flanagan at 17 per cent while Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy is in third place on 14 per cent.

The other candidates are all running relatively close together:

What matters to the constituents of the Midlands North-West? The campaign has been dominated by water charges as well as fracking and wind turbines in some areas.

With the countdown on until Friday’s elections, RTÉ kicked off with the first of its debates on Sunday evening.

It’s no surprise that water dominated the debate, as in some parts of the constituency people might well end up paying for undrinkable water.

Lorraine Higgins said Labour had got fairness out of the water deal, while independent candidate TJ Fay said that people are “stressed out” over the water charges.

Other candidates were also vocal about their criticism of the setting up of Irish Water.

European candidates for Midlands North-West were not overly impressed with the format with a number of independent candidates criticising saying it gives an unfair advantage to party members and sitting MEPs.

RTÉ

Both Luke Ming Flanagan and Rónán Mullen voiced their concerns live during the debate – probably one of the only times they both sang off the same hymn sheet. The day after the debate, they were still not impressed with the national broadcaster.

It’s notable that while Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness is topping the polls, their other candidate Jim Higgins is languishing at the bottom – meaning that Fine Gael won’t be getting two seats in this constituency.

The recent polls suggest that Labour are facing a Euro wipeout and this is pretty apparent in the Midlands North-West constituency with Lorraine Higgins at the bottom rung of the ladder.

Fianna Fáil must be quietly confident as they are running two party members in the constituency. Here they are having a nice stroll with their leader at the launch of their campaign:
http://vine.co/v/MraXpHWuH9i

Seven-time junior minister and currently in his third stint as an MEP, it’s fair to say that Pat The Cope Gallagher has seen his fair share of political battles. He was out canvassing at the weekend before the election – and he even got a helping hand from former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

cowen-14-630x470 Source: Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher/Facebook

He obviously doesn’t think that having the Taoiseach that reigned over the banking collapse is a hindrance to his campaign, telling TheJournal.ie in an interview:

I think that anger that was there is not there to the same extent.

“I think people are recognising that Fianna Fáil was trying to balance growth between rural and urban areas and that is not the agenda of this Fine Gael government.”

Meanwhile, Meath-based senator, Thomas Byrne, who missed out on being elected to the Dáil in the Meath East by-election last year, is also running in the constituency.

Thomas Byrne admitted to TheJournal.ie, that there are concerns in the party about its poll ratings, but said he believes Fianna Fáil is the only party which has a chance of taking two seats in the constituency. Other than that, all seems to be going smoothly, even getting a chance to get a haircut on the campaign trail.

Relatively unknown nationally, Sinn Féin’s candidate Matt Carthy is snapping at the heels of Luke Ming Flanagan. Sitting in third place in the polls, he said running for Europe was not something he have envisaged. At 36 years old, he says he hopes he can bring a much-needed sense of youth to the European Parliament.

carthy-headshot-1-333x500

On the other scale of the age spectrum, independent candidate T.J. Fayis the oldest candidate running in the election, aged 72.

Speaking on the RTÉ Prime Time debate,  independent candidate Mark Fitzsimon said: “We’ve had Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and Greens. They all failed, try something new, vote independent for change.”

The candidate also took his protests to new levels when he was dragged out of studio during the ad break on RTÉ’s Prime Time debate.

Second favourite in the polls, Luke Ming Flanagan, has been vocal throughout the campaign about the retention of the A&E at Navan Hospital, turf cutters as well as water charges.

Photos from Luke 'Ming' Flanagan TD's post - Luke 'Ming' Flanagan TD | Facebook Source: Facebook

Lorraine Higgins also took a pop at the independent TD, branding him a “turkey”:

Higgins told TheJournal.ie, she was not singling Flanagan out. She described the posts as just “a bit of tongue-in-cheek for the week that’s in it”.

Other candidates running in the constituency are Direct Democracy Ireland’s Ben Gilroy and independents Cordelia Nic Fhearraigh, Marian Harkin and candidate Rónán Mullen, who is appealing to voters with this:

Source: Stev Kelly/YouTube

Read: Here’s how Election 2014 is shaping up in Ireland South

Read: Here’s how Election 2014 is shaping up in Dublin

Read all our Election 2014 coverage here > 

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