Fine Gael remains top party despite fall in support
FINE Gael has retained its position as the most popular political party in the country, according to a new poll.
However, the party failed to capitalise on the recent controversy surrounding Taoiseach Brian Cowen's disastrous radio interview.
The latest Red C tracking poll for 'The Sunday Business Post' showed that Fine Gael had 31pc of the vote, seven ahead of FF. But its support has fallen two points since the last poll in June.
Labour saw its share fall by 4pc. The winners were Sinn Fein (up 2pc), the Greens (up 1pc) and the Independents (up 3pc).
The results came just days after a separate poll from TV3/Millward Brown which saw Labour jump a staggering 16 points in just seven months to 35pc. FF was down five points to 22pc while Fine Gael was down four points to 30pc.
The results of the two polls differ due to their methods.
The Red C poll also shows that just 19pc of voters have confidence in Mr Cowen as Taoiseach, with 17pc saying they "don't know".
However, FF TDs are continuing to show their support for the beleaguered leader, with Defence Minister Tony Killeen yesterday confirming his backing for the Taoiseach.
"The latest poll appears to bear out the results of the mid-week poll that 90pc of people were not impacted by recent controversies," he said.
"In respect of those polls, there is a massive difference between the showing for the Labour party in the Wednesday and Sunday polls and this is difficult to explain."
Government Chief Whip John Curran said the polls were merely "a snapshot".
He believes that when the public begins to see the benefits of the tough fiscal cuts the tide will turn. Almost 30pc of voters overall said they would be more likely to vote for FF if Mr Cowen were replaced.
If the results were borne out in a general election, FF would lose around 30 seats.
However, only 30pc of voters declare confidence in FG or Labour to manage the public finances.