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Sunday 22 October 2017

FG in driving seat as FF and Labour plunge

‘Noonan factor’ sparks surge for Kenny’s party

ÁineKerr, Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan

FINE GAEL are poised to lead the next government after a surge in support – while backing for Fianna Fail and Labour plunged in a new opinion poll.

Fianna Fail continues to languish at record low levels and faces the loss of 50 seats on polling day.

The commanding performance of former FG leader Michael Noonan, nowfinance spokesman, on the Budget and IMF-EU bailout is seen as a significant boost to the party’s credibility.

The ‘Noonan Factor’ is being attributed to Fine Gael’s 6pc increase to 30pc. Ironically, satisfaction with leader Enda Kenny is down.

FG’s approach to the Budget and the need to reduce the deficit is viewed as far more realistic than Labour, whose support level drops by 7pc.

The poll results will do little to quell the fears of Fianna Fail and the Green Party with a gener al election approaching.

The first poll taken since the draconian €6bn Budget shows Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s party on a record low of 17pc – a 25pc drop since the last election.

If the trend was repeated in the General Election, which is expected in the next three months, the partywould be left with about 30 TDs – a loss of almost 50 seats.

Despite an apparent comeback lastweek and his endorsement by his Fianna Fail colleagues to lead them into the election,Mr Cowen’s personal satisfaction rating dropped again, by five points to 14pc.

Satisfaction with the Government is also down by five points to just 8pc in the IPSOS MRBI opinion poll in ‘The Irish Times’.

Nine out of 10 voters are dissatisfiedwit the Government’s performance. The poll was carried out on Monday and Tuesday of this week at 100 locations in all 43 constituencies.

Sinn Fein has seen its support almost double from8pc to 15pc. The surge comes on the heels of Pearse Doherty’s victory in the Donegal South-West by-election.

However, despite the publicity generated by Gerry Adams’ decision to run for the Dail in Louth, his satisfaction rating has dropped 1pc to 27pc.

Unpopular

Although favourite to become Taoiseach, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is still unpopular with the public and his satisfaction rating fell – even as his party’s support jumped substantially.

Only 23pc of those polled are satisfiedwith his performance, a drop of 2pc since the last comparable poll.

But the fact that Fine Gael has surged ahead of Labour indicates the party strategy of putting forward the team aroundMr Kenny – such as the economic team of Mr Noonan, Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar and Brian Hayes – is working.

Green Party support, meanwhile, remains stuck at 2pc – just below the 3pc margin of error. This consistently lowsupport levelmay have an effect on whether the Greens pull out of Government sooner, or try to implement key policy aims.

Independents and others have increased support by 2pc to 11pc, with the recent launch of theUnited Left Alliance,with MEP Joe Higgins as its figurehead, a possible factor.

Despite his party’s drop, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has the highest satisfaction rating of any party leader, at 44pc. However, this is a 5pc fall on the last poll.

The leaders of the Coalition are, unsurprisingly, the most unpopular leaders in the country.Mr Cowen has a 14pc satisfaction rating, while Environment Minister John Gormley is down five to 13pc

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