Sunday 25 February 2018

Labour’s Gilmore insists party is not suffering under Sinn Fein surge

Presidential candidate Sean Gallagher with children from the Glebe montessori school in Celbridge, Co Kildare, yesterday
Labour's Michael D Higgins campaigning yesterday in Killarney
Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell speaking to the media at Raphoe Mart in Donegal yesterday
Senator David Norris at the opening of his campaign headquarters on Duke Street in Dublin reporters

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has insisted the Labour Party is not suffering under growing support for Sinn Fein in the latest opinion poll.

A survey carried out this week puts the junior coalition partners one point behind Gerry Adams's party, but well inside the three point margin of error.

Mr Gilmore said at 17pc, down one, Labour support had been maintained since going into power with Fine Gael and remains around the record February election result.

"In fact if you look at the opinion poll the Labour Party support is holding steady. We are in a margin of error of what we got in the general election, which was our best ever result," the Tanaiste said.

"There isn't going to be a general election for four-and-a-half years and at this stage of the match this Government is not looking up at the scoreboard, we are concentrated on doing our job."

According to the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll Sinn Fein is now the second most popular party at 18pc with analysts linking the eight point jump in part to Martin McGuinness's high profile presidential bid.

It also showed a drop in support for Fine Gael, down three to 35pc and Fianna Fail, at 16% down two.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael has rejected suggestions Gay Mitchell's tilt at the presidency is doomed in the wake of two dire opinion poll results in the first week of the campaign.

Director of elections Charlie Flanagan dismissed reports that the party was running a damage limitation exercise around the MEP's Aras bid.

"The party is foursquare behind Gay Mitchell as Presidential candidate," Mr Flanagan said.

"Canvassing on the ground is only now hitting a high gear. We are in the first week of the campaign proper and a few negative polls are no reason to think that this race is run.

"There are three weeks left, plenty of work to do, plenty of miles to cover - and you will see a very different result on October 27."

Polls put Labour's Michael D Higgins in front with Sean Gallagher second and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness a close third.

Depending on which poll is analysed, Mr Mitchell is languishing anywhere from fourth to sixth after his support nosedived in the last few weeks.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has twice this week made public rallying calls for the party machine to get behind their man.

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