Support for Coalition drops to its lowest in three years
The Coalition parties have dropped to their lowest support levels since taking power three years ago in the wake of the garda scandals.
A new opinion poll shows Fine Gael and the Labour Party both recording their worst result since coming to office in March 2011.
The poll follows the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the emergence of the garda phone taping affair.
Sinn Fein have been the direct beneficiaries of the drop in support for the Government, according to the Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post.
Fine Gael is down three points to 26pc, with Labour down two points to nine per cent.
Sinn Fein is up five points to 21pc, while Fianna Fail and Independents are both unchanged at 22pc.
The poll figures will be worrying for the Coalition coming so close to the local and European elections.
Mr Shatter is facing a motion of no confidence in the Dail next week, ensuring the controversy stays on top of the agenda for another week.
Fine Gael and the Labour Party are bracing themselves for a local election backlash over the continual stream of scandals surrounding Mr Shatter.
Coalition party candidates have told senior strategists the Government’s bad handling of the garda controversies is damaging their campaigns.
Canvassers are reporting Mr Shatter’s name is coming up repeatedly on doorsteps “and not in a good way”.
The negative impact was first noticed in urban areas, but has spread to every part of the country in the wake of the resignation of the Garda Commissioner and the revelations of the taping scandals.
The party hierarchies are keen to move on from the affair amid growing fears the ground being lost can’t be made in the eight weeks to May 23.
“The voters wouldn’t be happy. This is an issue that’s dragging on for a period of time and is now building up. The council candidates would be getting a lot of flak,” a senior Fine Gael figure said.
“Even Fine Gael people are looking to give us a kick. They think we know more than we are telling them,” another party source said.
But Labour is also suffering as a result of the fallout surrounding Mr Shatter, even though he’s a Fine Gael minister.
“Shatter’s name has come up and members have said so. They are latching on to what the news agenda is. It’s impossible to understand. Shatter’s name is coming up and not in a good way. It’s not helpful to the election campaign. This week, people are far more tuned into it,” a senior party source said.
Canvassers are reporting a bad reception on the doors.
“It tarnished the image. People are confused. It’s his personality that’s destroying him,” a Fine Gael TD said.