Fianna Fail and Fine Gael both claim they’ll take two out of three

  With national opinion polls illustrating that political opinion across Ireland is divided almost evenly, local political enthusiasts are at fever pitch this morning. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s national organisations have both concentrated efforts on the constituency in this final phase of the campaign.   High-profile Fianna Fáil supporter Páidí Ó Sé canvassed in Roscommon town for Michael Finneran on Monday afternoon; while Senator Frank Feighan told Roscommon People on Monday night that this week Roscommon-South Leitrim is being ‘targeted’ by Fine Gael as an essential gain.   It is almost impossible to anticipate the decision of an electorate that is famous for confounding punditry. Opinion polls conducted in the constituency and the prices offered on candidates by local bookmakers indicate that Deputies Naughten, Finneran, and Ellis will hold their seats. But just ask the families of Seán Doherty and Brian Lenihan about the veracity of opinion polls conducted here. Senator Feighan is mounting a massive campaign this week as he attempts to change the representative constellation. Cllr. John Kelly is also canvassing intensely in the final hours of the campaign.   It is generally agreed that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will take one seat each here tomorrow. Seasoned political observers throughout Roscommon concur that Denis Naughten is the most favoured to take a seat. Fianna Fáil will also take a seat; whether its occupant will be Deputy Finneran or Deputy Ellis is difficult to predict.   The final seat looks set to be the subject of a prolonged struggle between the second Fianna Fáil candidate, Fine Gael’s Frank Feighan, and John Kelly. Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny is also expected to perform creditably while Hugh Baxter of Labour should do likewise but neither will are expected to feature in the final counts.   Mr. Baxter, Deputy Ellis, Frank Feighan, Michael Finneran, John Kelly, Martin Kenny, Garreth McDaid, Denis Naughten, and the high-profile independent Noel O’Gara are the nine candidates who will put their names before the people tomorrow morning.   The perception that Denis Naughten will comfortably take a seat concerns the Fine Gael TD’s ‘camp’. Speaking as he canvassed in Roscommon town on Tuesday, Mr. Naughten’s Director of Elections Laurence Fallon told Roscommon People on that his candidate is ‘vulnerable’ because of the effect that this perception will have on voters when they enter polling booths around the constituency.   ‘Fine Gael nationally has given Denis Naughten one-third of the constituency. In order to be successful in this election he will have to get a huge vote in this area. The reality is that his seat is very vulnerable: he might lose out in his party’s attempt to get two seats,’ said Mr. Fallon.   Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, is confident of taking two seats in the constituency. Speaking to the Roscommon People as he canvassed for John Ellis in Boyle on Tuesday afternoon, a confident Cllr. John Cummins proclaimed that both Deputy Ellis and Michael Finneran would take seats tomorrow.   ‘We’re very positive in Fianna Fáil. We expect and intend to hold on to two seats. We have divided the constituency evenly and this vote-management should succeed,’ said Cllr. Cummins who asserted that John Ellis would hold the Fianna Fáil core vote in Senator Feighan’s Boyle stronghold.   The mood in John Kelly’s organisation is very positive too. Speaking to the Roscommon People on Tuesday afternoon Kevin Kelly said of his brother’s campaign: ‘It’s looking fantastic!’   He added: ‘We’re getting very good feedback from west Roscommon; there will be big pro-Kelly vote in that area. John is also benefiting from real fears for the future of the hospital and we’re very confident,’ he said.   Frank Curley of Ballyleague, who sits as a member of the Executive Council of Fine Gael, expressed a belief that Frank Feighan will take a second seat for Fine Gael. Borrowing from Brian Lenihan’s celebrated vocabulary, Mr. Curley said, ‘No problem!’   ‘No problem. I think we’re in with a great chance. I toured all of Leitrim and all North Roscommon in the course of the campaign and the response over the last two weeks is tremendous. In Leitrim voters were very ‘iffy’ initially but Frank Feighan is going down a bomb. He will take a seat on Thursday,’ said Mr. Curley.   Approximately 60,800 people are entitled to vote in Roscommon-South Leitrim tomorrow. In 2002 70.33% of the voters in Longford-Roscommon exercised their democratic responsibility. Assuming that a similar proportion votes tomorrow, circa 42,500 people will vote in this constituency. The quota will be c.10, 500.   Counting will begin in Dr. Hyde Centre, Roscommon at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. Voting hours on Thursday are 7.30 a.m. to 10.30 pm.