Monday 26 September 2016

'The only figures that matter are those cast on Election Day' - Defiant Frances Fitzgerald hits out at polls

David Kearns

Published 22/02/2016 | 09:05

Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins

A defiant Frances Fitzgerald has dismissed recent polls suggesting the Coalition will not be re-elected, saying the only figures that matter are those cast on Election Day.

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The Justice Minister is tired of hearing about polls showing support for Fine Gael (FG) is down, insisting that many political commentators were ignoring figures which showed the party was actually up by 12 points over its chief election rival Fianna Fáil (FF).

“Most of the discussion this morning… has been making assumptions about polls and how they will play out when people go in and cast their votes,” Deputy Fitzgerald told Newstalk’s Ivan Yates.

Read More: Election 2016 final countdown begins... and country's latest poll shows coalition party support fails to rise

“Well there’s been five polls since last Wednesday and I haven’t heard any discussion about the poll were [FG] where at 30 pc, a 4 point increase, and 12 points ahead of Fianna Fáil.”

The poll that Ms Fitzgerald was referencing was a Red C survey carried by the Sunday Business Post, which showed that FG is up four points to 30 pc, with FF dropping a point to 18 pc, following RTÉ’s seven-way leaders debate at the beginning of last week.

A new opinion poll today in the Irish Times shows support for FG is stagnating, and that FF and Independents and others are making gains.

FG remains unchanged on 28 pc, Labour is down a point to 6 pc.

One of the final polls of the campaign, if true, it means the coalition will not secure the 80 seats required to be re-elected.

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“I’m just making the point that a poll is a poll and there’s huge variation… we saw this in 2007 in the last number of days [of the general election]… [and] we saw in the UK how the polls got it wrong,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Now we’ve a different system here but I’m just making the point that in the next number of days, the key days, people will make up their minds on what Government they want to see in place.

She continued: “We’ve 18 pc undecided at present and that’s a huge number of people coming up to an election. This isn’t about what people believe, it’s about how they will vote.”

Refusing to speculate on a FG/FF government, Ms Fitzgerald was asked by Ivan Yates about Enda Kenny’s calling some residents of his hometown in Mayo "All-Ireland champions" at whingeing.

Read More: Kenny is unapologetic about Castlebar 'whingers'

Defending the Taoiseach, she said his comments were aimed at “a small group of Fianna Fáil politicians.”

“[This group] are completely unable to see any benefit from the recovering economy – that’s the point he was making.

“Anyone who knows Enda knows how understanding he is to particular individual situations, so to take his remark as a general comment on the people of Mayo is completely inaccurate.”

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