FF gain, Labour pain
Published 19/11/2012 | 13:20
Fianna Fail on the way back? Up six points in the Behaviour and Attitudes opinion poll, and mostly at the expense of Sinn Fein, the party that has nipped at its "republican" heels for so long?
Micheal Martin will not indulge in over-enthusiasm. He may be the highest-rated party leader at 42pc, but he and his party are still far below the ratings of their glory days. In all probability, they will never reach their former levels again.
But the fact of modest recovery is undeniable, and the opportunities to improve on a support rating of only 22pc are abundant.
In this latest poll, Fine Gael has more or less held its own. Voters' discontents have hit Labour, and doubtless some of Fianna Fail's gains have come from Labour – which at the same times faces a Sinn Fein challenge. But Fianna Fail is the main force standing in the way of Sinn Fein progress. Its confrontation has nothing to do with republicanism, by any definition. It has to do with attracting working-class support, especially in Dublin.
The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, runs neck and neck with Mr Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the popularity ratings. But he has no appeal for Dublin voters. Can he last? A Sinn Fein party led by Mary Lou McDonald might be rather interesting.