Call for Gilmore to be more 'hands on' as his disapproval rating soars
Labour leader even less popular than Cowen when his government fell, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Correspondent
DISAPPROVAL for Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's performance as leader of the Labour Party has hit an all-time high, according to the latest Sunday Independent Millward Brown opinion poll. Meanwhile, despite a sustained period of controversy surrounding him and his past alleged terrorist activities, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams still remains substantially more popular than the Labour leader.
With just under three out of every four voters (73 per cent) dissatisfied with his performance, Mr Gilmore's current rating is the lowest he has recorded since we began our series of political tracking polls earlier this year.
At this level, Gilmore is even less popular a leader than former Taoiseach Brian Cowen was in the months before his government fell in early 2011. The new finding will be unwelcome news to the Labour leader as he heads into his party's make-or-break party conference in Killarney in two weeks.
Those most dissatisfied with his position as leader include older and poorer voters as well as those living in commuter counties who clearly feel Labour has failed to properly protect them from the Government's continued austerity regime.
Just 16 per cent of those polled said they felt satisfied with Gilmore's leadership, and these findings are likely to renew calls for him to vacate the Department of Foreign Affairs in favour of a domestic ministry.
Support for Gilmore was highest among wealthier, higher-educated Dublin voters who said they continue to support the Coalition. Rightly or wrongly his perceived continual absence has become a stick to beat him with and has fed a narrative that he is an absent or disconnected leader.
Labour, at nine per cent in this poll, has suffered most from the public in terms of support since taking office and should the current position be replicated at a general election, the party stands to lose in excess of 25 seats.
Meanwhile, despite being the subject of deeply damaging coverage in recent months, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams remains more popular than Gilmore by a margin of 10 per cent.
Adams was widely criticised for not acting fast enough to alert authorities to his brother's sexual abuse of his daughter Aine.
He was also the subject of an in-depth television documentary which alleged he played a direct role in the disappearing of Jean McConville.
Dissatisfaction for Adams's leadership now stands at 63 per cent, compared with 59 per cent in our last poll.
Those most unhappy with him include voters living in Dublin, the higher educated, those who are declared Labour and independent voters, as well as a large section of the farming community.
Just 22 per cent of those polled expressed satisfaction with his leadership. Those who remain most supportive of Adams include voters between the ages of 18 and 44 and those living in rural Ireland and Ulster.