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Labour would lose 14 seats if election reflected the polls

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Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

THE Labour Party is facing the loss of up to 14 seats if the present opinion poll results are repeated in the next general election.

The support for both of the coalition parties has fallen -- Fine Gael dropping by three points to 33pc and Labour down by six points to 13pc.

Labour Party hierarchy aren't panicking yet as the Coalition is only one year into its term of office -- despite leader Eamon Gilmore watching his party fall behind Sinn Fein in the polls.

The party won a record 37 seats in the 2011 general election -- and then added another when Patrick Nulty won a seat in the by-election in Dublin West which followed the death of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.

But in the event of a 13pc vote in an election, Labour would lose second seats it holds in a raft of Dublin constituencies: Mid-West, South-West, South-Central, South-East, North-West, North-East and West.

The party's one seat in the volatile Dublin South would also be in doubt.

Outside of Dublin, in the commuter belt constituencies, the seats in Meath East would be in danger. Elsewhere in Wexford, the seat in Carlow-Kilkenny would also be in doubt.

In the west of Ireland, the seats in Galway East and Clare would be in the firing line, along with the seats in Munster in Kerry North and Cork South-West.

Yesterday Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted there would be no change to his economic policies despite the 73pc dissatisfaction rating with his Government.

But Mr Kenny said he was sticking to his "business model" of not increasing income tax or social welfare.

"I acknowledge, of course, that people have difficulties in adjusting to changes that have to be made. But the fact we are spending €18bn more than we are taking in is a problem that will not go away and that has to be faced," he said.

It was acknowledged yesterday that the controversy over the introduction of water charges in 2014 -- which was in full flow when the poll was taken earlier this week -- had been one of the key factors. The Government has also been hit by the controversy over the €100 household charge, which has been paid by just 900,000 out of 1.6 million households.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said there had been a "lot of bad publicity about the Government for a whole variety of reasons" when the poll was taken.

At the launch of the first Jobs Action plan review in Dublin yesterday, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that the poll findings were a sign of how difficult the Government's job was.

"This is a time for courage to stick with the task, which is to bring this country to economic recovery," he said.

'Mudguard'

But despite his assurance that the next general election was a long way away, the results of the poll IPSOS MRBI poll taken for 'The Irish Times' will alarm Labour TDs. Sinn Fein is now up six points to 21pc, with its leader Gerry Adams declaring yesterday that Government austerity policies were not working.

"Labour said it would take the edge off Fine Gael but it hasn't done that. Rather than a vanguard, it has become a mudguard for Fine Gael and people know that," he said.

But despite condemning the "Yes Men parties" of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail, Mr Adams refused to rule out going into coalition with any of them after the next election. He said Sinn Fein would only go into Government on the basis of its "very clear policies" being implemented.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said it was not the first poll where Sinn Fein's support had risen substantially.

"You see, they have got all the negative side of politics to themselves because Fianna Fail continue to support the kind of programmes they did when they were in government. So, Sinn Fein have a free field to build their party on," he said.

Irish Independent