Thursday 22 February 2018

FG makes most of FF controversy to extend lead in poll

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE GAEL has opened up a big lead on Fianna Fail in a new opinion poll.

The self-inflicted controversies around Fianna Fail's John McGuinness and Marc MacSharry are being blamed for the drop in the party's support.

However, a second poll out last night shows Fianna Fail retaining its status as the top party and support for the coalition parties slipping.

The Red C poll for Paddy Power bookmakers shows Fine Gael up four points to 30pc and Labour down one point to 10pc.

Fianna Fail is down two points to 24pc, Sinn Fein is unchanged at 16pc and Independents and others are down one point to 20pc.

The poll was taken on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the last comparable Red C poll was carried out last month.

The pollsters says the drop in Fianna Fail support is the "standout feature" of the poll and speculate about the cause.

"The recent revelations about John McGuinness's request that spouses should in some circumstances be allowed to accompany their partners on state business may have re-opened old wounds for voters who had edged back into the Fianna Fail fold, serving as a reminder of the "old-school" mentality that has dogged the party.

"Likewise, the tirade from Marc MacSharry in relation to Enda Kenny, labelling him a 'clown' and accusing him of urinating on the Seanad may have back-fired and galvanised support for the Taoiseach and caused some members of the electorate to reconsider their tentative support for Fianna Fail," the pollsters say.

The pollsters also suggest the commentary showing Fianna Fail and Fine Gael support level may have contributed to a "backlash of sorts" with a consistent refrain suggesting voters had a short memory and questioning their speedy return to support Fianna Fail.


But another poll, taken by Ipsos MRBI for The Irish Times, shows no change in Fianna Fail's support levels since the last poll four months ago, when it recovered first place for the first time in five years.

Fine Gael on 24pc and Labour on 9pc both dropped a point since February but satisfaction with the Government is actually up three points.

Support for Sinn Fein on 21pc is up three points while support for Independents on 18pc has declined by two points.

Fine Gael's support in the poll is at its lowest point since September 2010, and shows the party losing one in three of the 36pc of the votes it received in the 2011 general election.

Yet Taoiseach Enda Kenny's rating has improved and the drop in satisfaction with the Government has stopped and the coalition is up three points.

The Labour Party is back to its traditional average support level of 9pc, with the gains of the general election entirely eroded.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's satisfaction rating dropped again to 16pc and he is lagging well behind the rest of the leaders.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams is up six points to 33pc, making him the most popular party leader.

Irish Independent

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