With two weeks to go to one of the most eagerly-awaited General Elections ever, a fierce battle is underway for the third seat in the Roscommon/South Leitrim constituency.
They may not like to be depicted as near-certainties, but at this early stage in the campaign outgoing Fine Gael TDs Frank Feighan and Denis Naughten both look set to retain their seats.
Sinn Fein’s Martin Kenny and controversial Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan are emerging as the biggest threat to Fianna Fail, who are battling to keep the seat which will be vacated by retiring Minister of State Michael Finneran.
The Labour Party’s Cllr. John Kelly is still very much in contention but both he and HAC candidate John McDermott have a struggle on their hands if they are to make it to Dail Eireann.
At this juncture in the campaign Fianna Fail’s Ivan Connaughton appears to be bunched with Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Sinn Fein’s Martin Kenny in a fierce battle to take one of the three seats available. At present Fine Gael’s Denis Naughten is widely expected to top the poll and his colleague Frank Feighan is expected to make it a Fine Gael double.
All other candidates will talk up their chances but as matters stand Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Ivan Connaughton are fighting it out for the remaining seat with Martin Kenny going very well and John Kelly in need of some further momentum if he is to make a historic breakthrough for Labour.
The HAC are seen to have prevaricated and will need to inject very significant momentum into their campaign if they are to mount a challenge.