O'Dea admits Fianna Fail is 'at risk' in revised Limerick City constituency

FIANNA Fail's Deputy Willie O'Dea has said the party is "at risk" of losing one or possibly both of its seats in Limerick City in the New Year.

FIANNA Fail's Deputy Willie O'Dea has said the party is "at risk" of losing one or possibly both of its seats in Limerick City in the New Year.

But Minister of State Peter Power says there are local factors at play which, despite the party's dismal national poll ratings, could work in their favour and help them retain the two seats.

Both TDs were selected to run at the party convention in the Savoy Hotel last week. In recent years, Fianna Fail has run three candidates in Limerick East but only two will stand this time. Deputy Power said the party wanted "a tighter ticket" in the new constituency which has been reduced in size from five to four seats.

It is estimated that Deputy O'Dea got 4,500 votes in rural parts of the old constituency last time out while Deputy Power got 800 "county" votes in 2007.

Fine Gael also claim they are set to retain their two seats while Labour and Sinn Fein are hoping to gain one at the expense of Fianna Fail.

Opposition candidates say Fianna Fail's stock has never been so low and the loss of one seat from the constituency will work against them.

But Deputy Power says Fianna Fail took both of the first two seats in 2007. He benefited from almost half the transfers in O'Dea's massive surplus of almost 11,000 votes to get elected on the second count.

"Yes, there is antipathy to the Government and to Fianna Fail out there and we are hearing that on the doorsteps. But what we are also hearing is that both myself and Willie have been working very hard in the constituency and people are also aware of that. That they appreciate our efforts gives us great confidence going into an election," Deputy Power said.

"We are also going into this election from a position of strength, winning the first two seats in 2007. In every election since 1992, Fianna Fail has increased its share of the vote.

"That is not to underestimate the challenge facing us as there has been a big swing against the Government nationally. But both myself and Willie have put in the work since 2007 and I am confident we will retain both seats," Deputy Power said.

Although most political observers regard him as a racing certainty for re-election, possibly at the top of the poll, Deputy O'Dea told Limerick's Live 95FM that there was a risk Fianna Fail could be wiped out in the city.

"I wouldn't be honest if I said there wasn't such a risk (of losing two] given the current state of the opinion polls. Our only hope is that during the election campaign itself people will focus on the issues and look at what the government is offering and what the opposition is offering."