Friday 18 January 2019

'I didn't bother reading it, I just saw the front page and said f*** that' - FF TD reacts to poll ratings

TDs insist they're not panicking as Varadkar popularity surges

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin battling it out in the polls
Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin battling it out in the polls

Shona Murray

Fianna Fáil TDs insist they are "not panicking" over poor opinion poll ratings for the party.

Support for Fine Gael has risen six points and the party, which has been in power for seven years, is now on 36pc.

According to the latest 'Sunday Independent'/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll, Fianna Fáil has dropped one point and is languishing at 28pc.

"We are up against the might of the Government strategic communications department," said one frontbench TD who asked not to be named.

"We shouldn't panic - although there are people on the frontbench who aren't lifting their role."

Most Fianna Fáil TDs say they don't blame party leader Micheál Martin for the decline in support.

Mr Martin's popularity was up three points to 48pc.

However, satisfaction with Leo Varadkar has soared 10 points ahead to 58pc - nine points higher than his initial rating after he became Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael.

There is a sense of deflation within Fianna Fáil that efforts to call out the Government over inconsistencies in key problem areas such as housing and health are not puncturing Fine Gael support.

"I didn't bother reading inside the paper, I just saw the front page and said f*** that," said another TD.

"Ah they're pulling the wool over people's eyes with this National Planning Framework stuff," they said.

"It's a very tricky balance to be in Opposition and also maintain the Government for the sake of the country. Leo's seen as someone who put on the green jersey and gave a kicking to the Brits," said another.

"Let it be a kick in the arse for us and make everyone get out on the doors," they added. 

Fianna Fáil's poll ratings were similarly low during the last leg of the election in 2011, yet the party came very close to Fine Gael in the end.

With one week to go, a Red C poll predicted it would get 31 seats, but in the end it took 44.

Senior figures like Barry Cowen say Fianna Fáil is "in touch" with the public but it's very hard to land a punch on the Government.

"They're too busy spinning while we're trying to deal with vulture funds sales, rent, people who can't buy a house," he said.

He admitted the National Development Plan "addressed" a lot of the issues but says the detail isn't strong enough to deal with the challenges facing the Midlands.

He says the positioning of Athlone as a special growth centre was more about giving a sop to Independent Alliance minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, rather than an intention to concentrate on adequate investment.

"They made Athlone the centre-point to satisfy 'Boxer'," but there's not enough specifics in it, he told the Irish Independent.

"Leo just said 'tell Moran he can have Athlone as a capital to keep him happy'," it's not "serious stuff".

However, Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness believes untreated fissures within the parliamentary party have led to the drop in public confidence.

"The leadership of the party needs to take note of the concern of others in the parliamentary party," he said.

"I don't see a leadership battle but there is an issue with the stances we take, and that requires the leader to take heed of the issues and to be more united."

Instead all it is seen as doing is "propping up Fine Gael", he added.

Irish Independent

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