Sunday 25 February 2018

Blinded by an infuriating sideshow as jobs fly away

'Dail should have dealt with O'Leary proposal instead of O'Dea fiasco'


The political sideshow of the Willie O'Dea affair infuriated voters who believe the Dail's priority last week should have been securing 300 jobs at Dublin Airport.

Instead of seeking the head of former Defence Minister O'Dea, the elected representatives should have concentrated on ensuring the controversy over Michael O'Leary's jobs offer was sorted out.

A Sunday Independent/ Quantum Research telephone poll found that 86 per cent of respondents believed that our TDs' main priority last week should have been Ryanair's wish to occupy Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport and create 300 jobs in aircraft maintenance. Just 14 per cent thought the controversy over Mr O'Dea was more important.

"I can't believe the Government. How could they let something like this happen? They should have bitten Michael O'Leary's hand off to get those jobs," was the view of one female voter -- reflecting the view of most respondents.

An interesting element of the poll, with a sample size of 500 respondents from all over the country, is that many voters are suspicious of Michael O'Leary's motives, believing that the offer of jobs was a smokescreen for something else.

Significantly, 71 per cent did not believe John Gormley's original indications in the wake of Mr O'Dea's resignation that the Greens did not threaten to withdraw from the Government unless he quit his post.

Mr Gormley's account of what happened on the day of the resignation later hardened and the Green Party leader confirmed on Friday that he told the Taoiseach on Thursday afternoon that Mr O'Dea's position was untenable and that his continued presence at the cabinet table would threaten the stability of the Government.

The poll shows that Mr Gormley's initial attempts not to crow over securing the head of Mr O'Dea did not convince voters.

Just over seven-out-of-10 respondents were sure that Mr Gormley and the Greens had played hard ball with Fianna Fail.

Some respondents felt that the motive for Mr Gormley's initial comment was based on self-preservation and indicative of the Greens' "grim determination to stay in government at any cost", as one respondent put it.

Many of those polled expressed cynicism about the Greens leader, including among those who were willing to take him at his word -- 29 per cent. Some argued he was telling the truth because the Greens would "not have the guts" to withdraw from the Government.

A slim majority, 51 per cent, believed that the Greens were right to change their minds overnight after voting confidence in Mr O'Dea.

Most respondents thought the Greens had little option given the mounting public disquiet and the huge political pressure exerted by the opposition.

In all, 49 per cent did not think the Greens were right to change their minds, but a large majority of these people believed that they should never have supported the confidence motion in the first place.

"It was about time they put their foot down about something instead of letting Fianna Fail continually walk all over them," was the view of one female respondent.

A majority of 69 per cent of those polled did not think Green Party chairman, Senator Dan Boyle, has too much influence on the Government.

Mr Boyle's Twitter comment on Wednesday night that he no longer had confidence in Mr O'Dea is now being seen as a crucial factor in the Greens' volte-face on the former Defence Minister.

Sunday Independent

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