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10 March 2005 Edition

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Meath polls positive for Reilly

BY JOANNE CORCORAN

Two polls printed on Tuesday night have put paid to speculation that Joe Reilly's vote in the Meath by-election will suffer because of recent attacks on Sinn Féin. The polls, commissioned by the Meath Chronicle and Fine Gael, show Reilly at 14.9% and 15.1%, respectively. This would put the Navan-based councillor 6% higher than his general election result in 2002.

The poll placed Fianna Fáil in the lead with 36.7% and Fine Gael second with 20.4%. The Progressive Democrats hold a pitiful 7.6%.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson canvassing in Navan said on Wednesday that the polls reflected what Sinn Féin has been saying all along — that voters aren't interested in attacks on the party, they want to discuss local issues.

"If anything, these figures are a conservative estimate of support," Dublin Chairperson Justin Moran told An Phoblacht.

"The figures are based on 100% turnout, and given that Sinn Féin is renowned for its ability to get voters out on polling day, we believe that Reilly could actually return with as much as 20% of the vote.

"But it comes as no surprise to us. We have run this election campaign with the intention of winning the seat. It merely proves what we have said from the start. Voters aren't listening to the incessant attacks on our party being made by the government. They are making their own minds up about these candidates."

Moran said the party hopes to further raise Reilly's vote through intensive canvassing in the next few days.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One on Wednesday, Reilly said he had not been confronted with negativity on the doorsteps.

He added that the people of Meath did not need another silent backbencher in the Dáil.

"This government needs a defeat if the people of Meath want to see delivery on the issues that matter most to them, such as health, education, traffic, and area infrastructure," he said. "108,000 people could vote in the 2002 election. That figure has risen to 130,000. So far, all the Government has delivered for Meath has been houses. They haven't delivered anything else."

When asked to sum up in 20 seconds why he should be voted in on Friday, he said; "I am the most experienced candidate in the field. I have delivered as a councillor and I am the only viable alternative for the people of Meath."

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