Fine Gael rues 'early election that never was' as Labour support flat
Taoiseach Enda Kenny may have made a strategic mistake by not calling a November election, some Fine Gael TDs feel.
The party's support has risen by five points in the latest opinion poll and satisfaction with the Government is at its highest in three years.
However, the Labour Party continues to wallow on 7pc.
Some Fine Gael backbenchers last night expressed disappointment that they were not going to the polls sooner, but declined to publicly criticise Mr Kenny's decision to give into Labour demands for a spring election.
Labour junior minister Kevin Humphreys told the Irish Independent that while its result was disappointing, the jump for Fine Gael is giving his party hope and he believes there "is still time to recover" before the voters go to the polls in February or March.
"I always reckoned that Fine Gael would recover first as the largest party. I'm happy that the satisfaction rating with the Government is going up," the Dublin Bay South TD said.
He added the mood on the doorstep toward Labour canvassers had become "more friendly" but they "need to get people to the point of voting for Labour again".
The 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown poll put Fine Gael on 29pc, followed by Fianna Fáil (24pc), Sinn Féin (21pc), Labour (7pc) and Independents/Others (19pc).
Satisfaction with the Government is up seven points to 32pc.
Fine Gael junior minister Simon Harris declined to comment directly on the results, but said there was now a clear choice for voters. "The trend emerging is that the economy is emerging and the choice is more crystallised, in terms of sticking with a plan that's working or taking a massive leap into the unknown," he said.
Meanwhile, almost half of voters believe the IRA Army Council oversees Sinn Féin, as suggested in a PSNI/MI5 report on paramilitary activity.