Our man predicts every constituency... and a second General Election
If you want to make some easy money, grab some of the 5/4 about there being a second General Election in 2016. It was 5/2 when the campaign began a few weeks ago, but punters have piled in as the prospect of a 'hung' Dail draws ever closer.
A Sunday World survey of the 40 constituencies that will be the battleground tomorrow throws up a result that will make forming a Government nigh on impossible.
Now the opinion polls might be wrong. For a start they were badly wrong in Britain's General Election last year - never once showing a Tory overall majority.
But to give Ireland a stable Government for the next five years, they would have to be wildly wrong on this side of the Irish Sea. And we mean six or seven per cent out in underestimating support for one of the bigger parties.
It was incredible to write the constituency predictions below and see that in so many cases it really was a guess where the last, vital, seat would fall.
From our figures for the likely TDs to be elected during Saturday's count, the only Government that might be formed when the new Dail meets next month is a Fine Gael/Labour coalition with either Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein abstaining in a 'Tallaght Strategy' to allow a new administration be formed.
It might just happen to get a Government in place, but do you see it lasting anymore than a few months? No, me neither. In fact I doubt if it would actually get off the ground.
There is one thing that might spoil our bet. With each of our TDs earning close to €100,000 per annum in basic salary - not to mention expenses and a 'Leader's Allowance' for every Independent - it will be a brave Independent who will vote down the Government and thus end the Dail and cut themselves off from all that loot.
Remember too in January 1982, how three 'Indos', Jim Kemmy, Sean 'Dublin Bay' Loftus and Tony Gregory, as well as Joe Sherlock of the Workers Party, voted down the Budget and sparked a General Election.
In the GE that followed only Gregory got back to Leinster House. The people don't tend to look well on Independents who bring down Governments. They favour those who prop them up, such as Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae.
But I still can't see how we can avoid doing this all over again, perhaps as soon as June, and if not then, surely in October.
Here's how we see your constituency shaping up. For the sake of not ending up with alphabet soup, we've stuck successful candidates from the likes of Renua, Social Democrats and People before Profit down as Independents.
Carlow-Kilkenny- (5) After coming close last time and doing well in a by-election, Sinn Fein could make a big breakthrough in this five-seater. FF 2 FG 2 SF 1
Cavan-Monaghan- (4) Down to a four-seater for this election. and we say it will be 1 FF 1 FG 1 SF and a bunfight for the last seat. We just sneak it for FG.
Clare- (4) A strong Fianna Fail showing here, led by frontbencher Timmy Dooley (below), will see them grab a Labour seat. FF 2 FG 2
Cork East- (4) One each here for FF, FG, Lab and SF, with FG putting pressure on the SF seat in an area where there is rare infighting in the usually well-drilled party.
Cork North-Central- (4) Certain seats for Sinn Fein and FF, FG will just about hold on to theirs and maybe Mick Barry of the Socialist Party might grab the last seat ahead of Labour and a second SF candidate. FF 1 FG 1, SF 1 Ind 1
Cork-South Central- (4) One of the key constituencies in the whole country where two FF 'big beasts', party leader Micheal Martin and finance spokesman Michael McGrath, are trying to take two seats even though the opinion polls give the party only 18% of the vote nationally. It would be a massive shock, however, if either man was to miss out. FF 2 FG 1 SF 1
Cork North-West- (3) FG may just fend off an Indpendent threat to their second seat. FG 2 FF 1
Cork South-West- (3) Normally this is a Fine Gael stronghold, but they will be under pressure for their second seat from a couple of independents. FG 2 FF 1
Donegal- (5) Two seats here for Sinn Fein and there might be a third in this 90-mile long consituency if they can manage the vote well. But we're going with FF 1 FG 1, SF 2 Ind 1
Dublin Bay North- (5) The count here could be going on days after it is finished everywhere else. From a massive slate of candidates, with a handful of votes settling the last seat we give it to FF. But it could be just as easily another FG or another Independent. FG 1 FF 1 SF 1 Ind 2
Dublin Bay South- (4) FG will get one seat and are pushing hard for two. Lucinda Creighton should get back and then Labour, Sinn Fein and Fiann Fail are all scrambling for the last seat. FG 2, SF 1, Ind 1
Dublin Central- (3) Down a seat from the last election, so at least one TD has to go. It looks like being Labour's Joe Costello (below) FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Dublin Fingal- (5) This area gains a seat and so it should pan out FF 1 FG 1, Lab 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Dublin Mid-West- (4) The outgoing Government won all four seats here the last time - it won't happen again. FG 1 Lab 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Dublin North-West- (3) Even though their party is not flying nationally, FG may take a seat in this constituency for the first time in years - aided by redrawn boundaries. FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Dublin South-Central- (4) A constituency that has lost a seat this time around, but we say FG 1 SF 1 Ind 2
Dublin South-West- (5) By contrast this area gains a seat and God only knows who will profit. Here's our best guess, FF 1 FG 1 SF 2 Ind 1
Dublin West- (4) One of the pivotal voting areas in the country, where the Tanaiste Joan Burton is in serious danger of following Micheal McDowell and Mary Coughlan as Deputy Leaders of Government who were turfed out in an election. FF 1 FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Dublin Rathdown- (3) The old, giant, Dublin South five-seater has been sliced away to this three-seater. Shane Ross (below) will top the poll. FG 2 Ind 1
Dun Laoghaire- (4) Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett comes back automatically for FG, so this should turn out FG 2 FF 1 Ind 1
Galway East-Roscommon (3) A new constituency which the locals say will turn out at FF 1 FG 1 Ind 1
Galway West- (5) 'Dev Og' Eamon O'Cuiv will top the poll and after that it will be mayhem for the other seats. FF 1 FG 1 Lab 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Kerry- (5) The Kingdom is reunited as one constituency that stretches from Tarbert to Kenmare, north to south, and out to Slea Head and Valentia Island in the west. Could Michael and Danny Healy-Rae both get in after they spotted that there was no candidate from Killarney standing, and it the second biggest town in Kerry? It'll hardly happen. FF 1 FG 2 SF 1 Ind 1
Kildare North- (4) One of the most predictable constuencies in the country which will come out FF 1 FG 1 Lab 1 Ind 1
Kildare South- (3) What is it about the Lilywhites? Again this one is a safe bet, FF1 FG 1 Lab 1
Laois- (3) All the straightforward constituencies are coming together. FF 1 FG 1 SF 1
Limerick City- (4) But this is dogfight constituency, with lots of big names standing, where FG might just hang onto their second seat, but only at Labour's expense. FF 1 FG 2 SF 1
Limerick County- (3) If Fine Gael are going to have a good day, they need tight vote management to deliver two seats in this area. FF 1 FG2
Louth- (5) Gerry Adams (below) really needs to bring in running mate Imelda Munster. We predict the duo will just about hold off FG's Peter Fitzpatrick for the last seat. FF 1 FG 1 Lab 1 SF 2
Longford-Westmeath- (4) Kevin 'Boxer' Moran's effort for the people of Athlone during the recent floods may pay off with a seat at last in the National Parliament. FF 1 FG 1 Lab 1 Ind 1
Mayo- (4) A real bright spot for Fine Gael, with Enda Kenny (below) seemingly ready to lead a haul of three of the four seats. FF 1 FG 3
Meath East- (3) Labour are in big trouble here and will lose a seat. FF 1 FG 2
Meath West- (3) Locals say Ray Butler of FG is in trouble, but that would leave the Trim area without a TD for the first time in decades. FF 1 FG 1 SF 1
Offaly- (3) This could be a good area for Renua who may grab the last seat. FF 1 FG 1 Ind 1
Roscommon-Galway (3) Former Rossies' goalkeeper Shane 'Cake' Curran was a late entrant here - maybe just a bit too late. FG 1 Ind 2
Sligo-Leitrim- (4) This is not just about the two counties that bare its name, for there are chunks of Cavan and Donegal making up this 'sprawling' four-seater. We say FF 1 FG 2 SF 1
Tipperary- (5) A giant new Dail constituency in which the only certainty is that Michael Lowry will storm to the top of the poll whether the outraged citizens of other counties like it or not. FF 1 FG 1 Lab 1 Ind 2
Waterford- (4) David Cullinane should at last take a seat for Sinn Fein and so it will be FF 1 FG 1 SF 1 Ind 1
Wexford- (5) Minister Brendan Howlin (above) has one of the few safe Labour seats in the country. FF 1 FG 2 Lab 1 Ind 1
Wicklow- (5) The opinion polls say FF 1 FG 2 SF 1 Ind 1. But that would leave all of West Wicklow without a TD, will Billy Timmons take a seat for Renua?
So when you add it all up, after a few very uncertain guesses, we say it will be somewhere close to FG 58 FF 35 SF 28 Lab 8 Inds 29. And even when you separate out our Renua seats and Social Democrats seats and PBP seats and Indpendent Alliance seats, there are no numbers there to make up a stable Government.
Yes, FG and FF have the numbers, but Fianna Fail's grassroots would never allow the party be the junior partner in a coalition with their enemies for a lifetime in politics. Fine Gael and Sinn Fein simply wouldn't deal with each other either.
So it wil surely be a case of see you all again soon!