Thursday 22 March 2018

Brendan Howlin: 'Absolutely no way Labour at just 4pc in polls'

Brendan Howlin.
Brendan Howlin.
Brendan Howlin (Lab) - up to €12,000
Tanaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton

Kevin Doyle and Barry Lennon

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said there “absolutely” no way the Labour Party are at just 4pc in the polls.

The minister admitted that he would like to see his party doing better but believes many people will switch away from a “dolly mixture Dail” as polling day approaches.

“I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and talked to all of our candidates across the country to get feedback and talked to other parties as well, the lack of movement in public opinion, that seems to be something that is almost unique in my 30 years of campaigning.

“There is very little actual movement in public opinion. The one thing I’m certain of is that we are not on 4pc or anything even in the ballpark of 4pc. I’m absolutely sure of that. If you ask me what figure we’re on I don’t know,” he said.

Mr Howlin also hit out at Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein today, saying they were not fit to lead the next government.

He said the ‘Right to Change’ movement which is staging an anti-water protest in Dublin today was “a fig leaf” and a way of distraction from the question of whether Sinn Fein actually want to be in government.

He said Gerry Adams is “far more comfortable talking about 1916 than 2016”.

On Fianna Fail, he said Micheal Martin is “running away from the hard question”.

The minister said the Fianna Fail leader “gets aggressive” whenever he is asked about how he would form a coalition.

“If you look at Fianna Fail they are basically at the same point they were five years ago. They had imploded as a party and as a government. We barely had a constitutional government because they had to ring around on the final night to say ‘stop resigning… there’s only seven of us left, if one more goes we won’t actually have a constitutional government to make any decision’.

“You’d imagine they could never reach that awful point again but they haven’t progressed away from that,” Mr Howlin said.

Earlier today, Tanaiste Joan Burton said she's “a fighter” after the Labour Party's disastrous drop in the latest opinion poll.

Labour's support more than halved in the Sunday Times poll, showing the party with 4 per cent.

However, sources within the Labour Party have said that the poll may be a so-called outlier - an extreme value of a variable set.

The Sunday Times poll was prepared by Behaviour and Attitudes and appeared online late yesterday.

Read More: Parties get ready for the final election charge

The newspaper said it is investigating how it came to be published. 

The poll indicates that Labour party as low as 4per cent , with Fine Gael at 30 per cent , Fianna Fáil at 22 per cent, Sinn Féin at 15 per cent and Independents and Others at 30 per cent.

Unaligned Independents are at 10 per cent.

Read More: The knife-edge election

Ms Burton said that she doesn't normally comment on polls but said that the party would “rebound,” in Waterford today.

“I'm up for a fight, I've never stood down from a fight,” she said.

“People are thinking very seriously about how to use their vote. The key thing is Labour is to lead making people's lives better,”

Ms Burton reminded  that “every vote would count,” as the margins are so small, while speaking to voters today.

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