Sunday 21 January 2018

Burton must play hard ball with FG, says Labour TD after party's poll bounce

Enda Kenny and Joan Burton
Enda Kenny and Joan Burton
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

TANAISTE Joan Burton must now "play hard ball" with Fine Gael after the party recorded an impressive bounce in public support, Labour figures believe.

The latest opinion poll, which reveals the junior coalition partner has doubled its support, was published just weeks after Ms Burton replaced Eamon Gilmore as party leader.

The poll shows support for the junior coalition partner rose from 7pc to 14pc.

The result will come as a major boost for Ms Burton and Labour TDs, many of whom face a dogfight to hold on to their seats at the next election.

Reacting to the poll result, Labour figures last night 
insisted the party must display greater clout in negotiations with Fine Gael in order to secure the party's future.

A senior Labour figure, who asked to remain anonymous, said the party would adopt "a much stronger approach" beginning with the upcoming Budget.

"This poll bounce shows we are far from being dead in the water. But, of course, we need to show more clout and Fine Gael will learn that very quickly," the source said.

Labour TDs and senators agreed that the party's 
approach to being in coalition with Fine Gael must change.

Dublin Mid-West TD Joanna Tuffy told the Irish Independent that Joan Burton and 
Labour ministers must now "play hard ball" with Fine Gael.

"We need to play hard ball, to put up a tougher approach. We really need to get in there and fight for our values, the Labour party's future and its members," she said.

"The local elections threw up a devastating result. They were a wake-up call to say the least. They brought something home to me about what our party and ourselves need to do - we need to get our message across and help people in the process."

Ms Tuffy's constituency colleague Robert Dowds said the result would "provide a boost" for Ms Burton.

"Labour has always shown muscle in this Government and under Joan's leadership, we will continue to show muscle," he said.

Junior minister Kevin Humphreys said the party's focus must be on ensuring the economy "goes in the right direction".

"It's welcome that the party has received a poll boost. The indications are that we are winning back support, but we can't get over- excited," he told the Irish Independent.

"We must make sure the economy goes in the right direction; that has to be our priority."

Despite Labour's bounce in support, the Behaviour and Attitudes poll, published in The Sunday Times, shows that the Government has seen its popularity fall. Support for the Coalition is at 27pc, a one point drop since May.

Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and the independents have each suffered a 2pc fall in support.

In relation to the public support for the party leaders, Gerry Adams remains the most popular, closely followed by Joan Burton.

The findings show that Enda Kenny is the least popular leader of the mainstream parties and has a lower satisfaction record than Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Irish Independent

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