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Saturday 23 August 2014

Poll: FG gets it in the neck; Sinn Fein rampant; new party call

Hayes faces defeat in Dublin; Nessa to top poll; SF set to take seat in each constituency

DANIEL McCONNELL and JOHN DRENNAN

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Junior minister Brian Hayes,TD, the Fine Gael candidate for Dublin in the European Election arriving to submit his Election Nominations Papers to the office of Dublin City Returning Officer at the Sheriff's Office. Picture: Tom Burke
Junior minister Brian Hayes,TD, the Fine Gael candidate for Dublin in the European Election arriving to submit his Election Nominations Papers to the office of Dublin City Returning Officer at the Sheriff's Office. Picture: Tom Burke

FINE Gael Junior Minister Brian Hayes is facing a humiliating defeat in next month's European elections as Sinn Fein and Independents look set to capitalise on a wave of anti-government sentiment.

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A new Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll of the make-or-break Dublin constituency – the first comprehensive poll of its kind in this election – reveals that a decisive backlash against both Fine Gael and Labour is crystallising, with less than five weeks to polling day.

The poll also shows a majority – 54 per cent – in favour of a new political party, while over three out of every four voters, 77 per cent, are in favour of increasing the powers of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

On the evidence of today's poll, Sinn Fein is emerging as the new kingpin of Irish politics. Independent candidates are also polling strongly, with Nessa Childers set to take the first seat in Dublin.

For the first time in a Millward Brown poll, the electorate is turning against Fine Gael as well as Labour. The party is trailing behind Independents and Fianna Fail in Enda Kenny's heartland, Midlands-North-West.

It also shows that the Fine Gael junior finance minister Brian Hayes, the perceived early favourite to take the first seat in Dublin, is lagging behind Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan (20 per cent) and Independent MEP Nessa Childers (19 per cent).

Mr Hayes, on 15 per cent, is in a dogfight for the last seat with Fianna Fail's Mary Fitzpatrick (13 per cent), Labour's Emer Costello (12 per cent) and Green Party leader and former minister Eamon Ryan (11 per cent).

Our poll also asked for people's second preference in terms of candidate. Of even greater concern for Mr Hayes is the fact that he is not as transfer-friendly as Ms Costello, Mr Ryan or even Ms Fitzpatrick.

On this basis, Mr Hayes is facing an uphill battle to take one of the three Dublin seats. Any failure by Fine Gael to win a seat in Dublin would have serious ramifications for Mr Kenny within a party that is furious about the mishandling of the Shatter crisis.

Nationally, taking both yesterday's Irish Independent poll and today's poll together, Sinn Fein looks set to take three seats in the European Parliament, one in each constituency, which would represent a remarkable surge in its fortunes. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail look set to take two seats each, while Labour is only in contention for one.

According to today's Dublin poll, which was taken last Tuesday and Wednesday, Ms Childers is the most transfer-friendly of all of the candidates, with 18 per cent saying they would give her their number-two preference.

Based on this and her strong first-preference vote, Ms Childers is on course to take the first seat.

Despite being a relative unknown in terms of national politics, Ms Boylan, on 20 per cent, is benefiting from a considerable swing to Sinn Fein and, based on this poll, is well placed at this stage.

The political futures of both Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore hang on the results in Dublin. Mr Martin and his party will be encouraged by the fact that Ms Fitzpatrick is in contention for the last seat.

However, how Labour fares in Dublin will be even more critical for Eamon Gilmore. One senior Labour source told the Sunday Independent: "Should the party not return a single MEP, then Labour will be facing an existential crisis where the position of the party leader will be untenable."

In Ireland South, sitting MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly of Fine Gael is in danger of losing his seat and is now neck and neck with Fine Gael Senator Deirdre Clune. Based on the figures, however, the party should take one seat.

Fine Gael is also likely to take only one seat in the Midlands-Northwest constituency, meaning that one of its two sitting MEPs, Mairead McGuinness or Jim Higgins, will lose out. Fianna Fail's Brian Crowley, at 36 per cent, is sure of a seat in Ireland South.

In Midlands Northwest, Senator Thomas Byrne looks set to win a seat at the expense of sitting MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher.

Today's poll also asked a number of other questions.

The widespread disenchantment with the political establishment is revealed as a majority of those polled, 54 per cent, also favour the establishment of a new political party. Support for a new force in Irish politics is strongest among women, Dublin voters and those living in poorer areas. Thirty four per cent of those polled said they did not think the time was right for a new political party.

A slim majority, 52 per cent, were in favour of the principle of Universal Health Insurance but only one in four believes it will be successfully implemented by Government, which is a clear vote of no confidence in the abilities of Health Minister James Reilly.A huge majority, 77 per cent, support the proposal of giving more powers to the PAC to investigate matters of concern, including giving it direct powers to compel people to appear before it.

The recent refusals by former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins and Frank Flannery to appear before PAC has led to calls for the committee to be given extra powers.

Having rejected a government referendum in 2011, which would have allowed committees make adverse findings against individuals, it is not clear if the public now supports this proposal.

It is also clear that the recent wave of charity-related scandals which emerged at the PAC have led to the public having serious misgivings about the sector.

An overwhelming majority, 90 per cent of those polled, said they agreed that there should be a maximum salary level for senior management working in Irish charities.

A big majority, 82 per cent, said they had become more suspicious about the workings of charities in Ireland in the wake of the scandals involving Rehab and the Central Remedial Clinic.

A smaller majority, 52 per cent, said they were now less likely to donate to charity because of the scandals and that they had actually donated less since the controversies first emerged before Christmas.

There was near-universal agreement that the sector needs to be more transparent about how it makes use of the funds charities are given.

The poll also shows there is strong support for a member of the British royal family to attend the 1916 centenary commemorations in two years' time. Of those polled, 57 per cent said they would like to see a member of the royal family at the ceremonies.

There was also a modest welcome for the upturn in house prices, with 46 per cent saying it was a good thing.

 

The survey results presented here are derived from The Independent Newspaper Group/Millward Brown Poll. The poll was conducted among a sample of 531 adults representative of the approximate 0.99 million adults aged 18 and over - interviewed on a face-to-face basis in the home at 46 sampling points throughout the Dublin European Constituency. The margin of error for this opinion poll is +/- 4.3%.

For National results (non- Dublin constituency based), the poll was conducted at 136 sampling points nationwide, among a sample of 1,523 adults aged 18+, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5%. Interviewing on the poll was carried out between 22nd – 23rd April 2014. The poll was conducted in accordance with the guidelines set by ESOMAR and AIMRO (European and Irish Market and Opinion Research governing bodies). Extracts from the report may be quoted or published on condition that due acknowledgement is given to Millward Brown and The Sunday Independent.

Sunday Independent

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