Party popularity at record high of 37pc despite last week’s giveaway Budget
Sinn Féin’s popularity has reached a new record high, with support for the main Government parties largely unchanged in the latest Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks opinion poll taken three days after the Coalition’s massive €11bn Budget to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
And in another significant finding, the poll also reveals that Sinn Féin now commands the support of more than half of those who do not own their own home.
After the Budget, the cost-of-living crisis has receded somewhat as a government priority for people — but it remains the number one issue for a clear two-thirds (66pc) majority.
However, there is again a growing feeling that housing (55pc), up three points, should be the Government’s number one priority.
For the first time in this series of polls, it has emerged that more than half (51pc) of those who do not own their own home support Sinn Féin.
And of those people, only 9pc support Fine Gael while 6pc intend to vote for Fianna Fáil in the next election.
This finding starkly illustrates what is now a great divide among the public in relation to property and home ownership and largely helps to explain the surge in support for Sinn Féin.
The Government parties will be disappointed this weekend not to have received an increase in support after the Budget, although the Green Party (4pc) is up two points following its poor performance in the September poll.
While the poll finds a public generally satisfied with the Budget, with 55pc saying the Government’s response was appropriate — there remains significant anxiety about the cost of living this winter.
Asked to what extent the Budget would make a difference to their ability to cope, 44pc of respondents said some difference, 6pc said a big difference, but 46pc said no difference at all, and 4pc were unsure.
This finding also points to a nation divided not only on housing but also on the cost of living, the other big issue facing the country.
The poll shows half the public (49pc) think they will be financially the same after the Budget, while 27pc believe they will be better off and 24pc feel they will be worse off.
The public’s level of worry over their financial situation remains high — only 16pc are less worried after the Budget, while half (51pc) have the same level of worry and a third (32pc) are more worried.
The Government’s three €200 energy credits (37pc) was comfortably the most popular measure announced in the Budget, followed by an income tax band adjustment (16pc).
However, a majority (51pc) disagreed with the Government’s decision not to cap energy bills, as proposed by Sinn Féin.
Asked if the Budget would influence their vote at the next general election, 25pc said ‘yes’, comprising 15pc who said it would make them less likely and 10pc more likely to vote for a government party.
There is considerable opposition to the Government’s proposal to apply a concrete levy to pay for mica redress, which experts have said will add up to €4,000 to the cost of a new home: 59pc disagreed with the proposal, 27pc agreed and 14pc were unsure.
Yesterday Sinn Féin confirmed it is to introduce a Dáil motion to scrap the levy, in a move which is expected to exploit unease in Government over the proposal, particularly among Fianna Fáil backbench TDs.
In today’s poll, there has also been a fall in approval for Housing Minister, Darragh O’Brien (25pc), who’s down three points since last December, while Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin (40pc) remains the country’s preferred Housing Minister.