TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has insisted that being in power is not about "short-term popularity" as a new poll showed almost three-quarters of people are unhappy with the Government.
The results of the opinion poll show that the Anglo debt deal and the more recent agreement to extend the repayment of our bailout loans has had little impact on the ratings of the coalition parties.
Around 74pc of voters say they are dissatisfied with the Government, with only 20pc satisfied and 7pc in the "don't know" category.
Speaking in New York, Mr Kenny said that being in Government was not about being popular but about "doing what is right".
"This is not going to be easy, but is not about short-term popularity. It's about the good of our people, the good of our country. They understand now what the truth is, and in order to deal with that, you have to make difficult decisions sometimes," he said.
The Government's ratings have slipped dramatically since the Budget, which included the property tax and the €10 cut to child benefit. But Mr Kenny insisted he had no interest in opinion polls.
"The next election is three years hence and we will continue to implement our plan and our strategy, which clearly is working with a return of confidence," he said.
But the 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown poll has also increased the pressure on Labour, which has seen its support fall below the psychologically important barrier of 10pc. Its support is now at 9pc for the first time since taking office. It has suffered from a loss of support from public sector workers, who are facing pay cuts and longer working hours under Croke Park II.
NUI Maynooth geography lecturer Professor Adrian Kavanagh has predicted that Labour would be left with just 10 seats at the next election on the current figures – meaning that 28 of its current 38 TDs would lose their seats.
But one Labour TD said the party would be staying the course. "If we decided as a party to pull out, who is going to say thanks to us?" the TD said.
The party is hoping public sector workers will reluctantly vote for Croke Park II, which Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has described as "the best available in a bad situation".
He made it clear yesterday that across-the-board pay cuts were likely if the deal was turned down – and that the existing Croke Park deal would be over as well.
The opinion poll showed that Fine Gael is up by a single point to 25pc since last month. But the party is trailing Fianna Fail, which has risen by six points to 29pc, making it the most popular party – a boost for its hopes of a by-election victory for Senator Thomas Byrne in Meath East on March 27.
Sinn Fein's poll ratings have dropped slightly by 1pc to 20pc, but that is still double the party's general election result of 10pc.