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'It is one poll' - Taoiseach unfazed as Sinn Fein overtakes Fine Gael in latest opinion poll

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visit the Institute of International and European Affairs Dublin
Photo: Doug O'Connor

Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visit the Institute of International and European Affairs Dublin Photo: Doug O'Connor

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said he isn't fazed by an opinion poll which indicated Sinn Fein had dramatically overtaken Fine Gael in popular support just seven days before general election voting.

Mr Varadkar, speaking as he canvassed in Cork, insisted that everything remains to fight for in the final week of the General Election 2020 campaign - and warned that senior Fianna Fáil officials believe they already have "this election in the bag" and are preparing for ministerial offices, advisers and Garda cars.

A shock poll, which was carried out by The Times Ireland and Panelbase, indicated that Fine Gael had fallen to 19pc - 2pc behind Sinn Fein and 4pc behind Fianna Fáil.

"It is one poll, it is an online poll done by a company that has not done polls in Ireland before," Mr Varadkar said.

"But if it is correct it would see both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael losing seats in this election which I don't think is something anyone would have predicted a few weeks ago.

"But there is another poll out (RedC) so let's see how that one goes. I think there is definitely a desire in the country amongst a lot of people for change and for renewal.

"But I think we need to think as a country as to what sort of change we want? Is it the kind of change which brings us forward which is what Fine Gael offers or is it change which could bring us backwards?

Mr Varadkar insisted that a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Fein Coalition would be an economic disaster for Ireland.

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NO FEE FOR REPRO
FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2020. Photo: Douglas O’Connor. On the day Britain leaves the EU, Fine Gael Ministers visit the Institute of International and European Affairs, North Gt. Georges St. Dublin. L to R: Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

NO FEE FOR REPRO FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2020. Photo: Douglas O’Connor. On the day Britain leaves the EU, Fine Gael Ministers visit the Institute of International and European Affairs, North Gt. Georges St. Dublin. L to R: Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

"Is is change for good which is what Fine Gael has been delivering or is it change for the worse, which is what Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein would deliver."

Mr Varadkar insisted that Fine Gael can bounce back in the final days of the election campaign - despite the indications of numerous polls - when people realise what is at stake for Ireland given the challenges of Brexit and global trade.

"I actually think that the poll this evening (RedC) is the first time we have had a poll from the same company - we can then see if there is a trend or not.

"You can only compare like with like when it comes to polls.

"But as I said last night, only six months ago we won the European elections. We won five seats - more than Fianna Fáil or Sinn Fein combined.

"That was not what was in the opinion polls before the European elections and it was not what the exit polls showed on the day.
"We often find in politics that opinion polls are wrong - I don't ignore them and I don't dismiss them.

"But I do not assume that they predict the future and they do not claim to predict the future either.

He also claimed that some within Fianna Fáil are behaving as if the February 8 general election is already won.

"I don't trust Fianna Fáil - quite a lot of their candidates have already said they would be open to Coalition with Sinn Fein - Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher, Dara O'Brien, Jim McGuinness, Kevin O'Keeffe and Mary Butler.

"There is quite a growing list of Fianna Fáil people who are gearing up for Coalition with Sinn Fein.

"I think there are elements in Fianna Fáil who think this election is in the bag for them.

"They are probably measuring up (Dail ministerial office) curtains, appointing advisers and talking about bringing back Garda cars.

"That is the kind of arrogance we are seeing from Fianna Fáil - I hope they get a surprise next weekend."

Mr Varadkar admitted that, in various constituencies, some local issues had challenged Fine Gael.

The Taoiseach said one such example was Cork North Central where Dara Murphy TD resigned his seat to take up a lucrative role in Brussels - amid criticisms he had effectively stopped working as a Fine Gael TD for the area almost a year before his departure.

"In the by-election only a few weeks ago we had over 20pc of the vote and that was a better vote than we had in the previous general election.

"I am confident that between Colm (Burke) and Lorraine (O'Neill) we can hold onto our seat there.

"But I do know that it is an issue that is coming up on the doors. There are a lot of people n Cork North Central that feel they were let down by Dara. I know that a lot of our members and volunteers feel that way too.

"But I would really hate to see Lorraine or Colm Burke be punished for that - because Colm, in particular, and Lorraine too, they are really hard working people who are very much people who put the head down and look after local issues and constituency queries.

"I would hate to see them bearing the consequences in any way for something they did not do."

Online Editors


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