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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Bookies offer odds on hot seats
Ballot box
The electorate is getting ready to vote on 5 May
Two Northern Ireland bookmakers have published odds on the general election.

Both Sean Graham and Adrian Eastwood make the DUP's David Simpson the favourite to take David Trimble's Upper Bann seat.

But the two bookmakers disagree about the fate of the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, in the 5 May poll.

Sean Graham has him the favourite to take Foyle, while Adrian Eastwood lists Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin as the favourite.

Mr Eastwood told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme: "John Hume had a fantastic personal vote there, that's our view.

"With the swing within nationalism towards Sinn Fein we think Mitchel McLaughlin is entitled to be favourite, but again if we're wrong, the punters will say."

Both bookmakers have close odds for South Belfast given the split unionist vote between the UUP's Michael McGimpsey and the DUP's Jimmy Spratt.

Sean Graham's has Mr Spratt as the favourite at 5-4. They're offering the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell odds of 6-4 and Mr McGimpsey 5-2. Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey is at 100-1.
Candidates even back themselves believe it or not
Adrian Eastwood

Spokesman Gareth Graham said: "This looks like a three runner race and it looks like the most hotly contested constituency.

"It looks very, very close. Early support was for Alasdair McDonnell, it's shifted slightly now towards Jimmy Spratt."

Adrian Eastwood said it was fairly similar at his bookmakers although they were putting Alasdair McDonnell as current favourite. "I think the unionist vote will split fairly evenly and allow Alasdair to come through the middle.

"Plus there could be a degree of tactical voting here. Although Alex Maskey is a high profile candidate I do believe some of the people who would have voted for him will vote for Alastair McDonell and allow him to win the seat."

"Phenomenal interest"

In Upper Bann, Eastwoods make DUP man David Simpson 4-7 favourite to win and David Trimble 5-4 against.

Adrian Eastwood said: "David Simpson is favourite but I wouldn't describe him as overwhelming favourite.

"David Trimble is still a big figure, he's the leader of the unionist party and he's not going to give the seat up lightly.

"There is phenomenal interest in election betting.

"It's mostly professional people who wouldn't normally have a bet. Candidates even back themselves believe it or not."

Outside bets include hospital campaigner Dr Kieran Deeny at 33-1 to take the seat in West Tyrone and 500-1 for David Trimble to join the DUP.





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