Bookies say Coughlan likely to hold seat

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan is still odds-on to keep her Dáil seat in the next general election, despite the poor showing by Fianna Fáil in today’s Donegal Southwest byelection.

Paddy Power bookmakers have not yet calculated odds for most individual TDs, but offered 1/4 on Coughlan in response to a punter’s inquiry yesterday, a spokesperson said.

The party’s vote slumped from 50.5% in the 2007 general election to just 21.2%, with Brian Ó Domhnaill trailing far behind favourite Pearse Doherty.

Election Poster: Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: ‘Odds-on’ to retain her seat

Doherty, who went to the High Court to force the government to hold the byelection, gathered just shy of 40% of first preferences.

Assuming he holds his lead to take the seat, the 34-year-old senator will vote with his party against the budget on 7 December, leaving little room for Brian Cowen as he juggles an already thin majority.

And if Paddy Power customers are right, Doherty may find himself back on the election trail in early January. Gamblers feel the most likely date for a general election is during the week ending 30 January, despite claims from government sources that it may take until February or March to put through budget legislation.

Coughlan fares less well in the Fianna Fáil leadership stakes, with odds of 33/1 on offer on her chances of becoming party leader when Brian Cowen steps aside.

Micheál Martin is favourite to take what may be a poisoned chalice at 5/4, with Mary Hanfin close behind at 6/4.