Poll says Labour would lose 17 seats in an election
LABOUR is facing the prospect of losing up to 17 seats if the results of the latest opinion poll were to be repeated at the next general election.
It is currently on 10pc -- the same figure it achieved in the 2007 general election. That was only enough to elect 20 Labour TDs under then leader Pat Rabbitte -- and a repeat of that performance would mean up to 17 of its 37 current TDs losing their Dail seats.
At most risk of losing out are the new Labour TDs who were elected to the Dail on foot of the surge in support for the party.
They include Kerry North TD Arthur Spring, Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan, Clare TD Michael McNamara, Dublin North West TD John Lyons and Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte yesterday bristled at suggestions from Sinn Fein that Labour's 'Gilmore Gale' would meet the same fate as the 1992 'Spring Tide' -- a decimation of the party's strength for many years.
"Sinn Fein have clearly resolved on a calculated strategy which says that the worse the economic circumstances get, the better for Sinn Fein. I don't think that's in the best interests of Ireland," he said.
Labour TDs are putting on a brave face by pointing out that the party was at 15pc in the 'Sunday Business Post' Red C poll -- carried out just before the 'Irish Times' Ipsos MRBI poll which placed them at 10pc. And they highlight the fact that the next general election is four years away --giving the economy and their party time to recover.
Labour got a boost yesterday when former Junior Minister Willie Penrose -- who resigned the party whip over the closure of Mullingar barracks -- declared that he would return before the general election.
"I am proud of what the Labour Party has achieved and hopefully over the next 12 months things will turn. I would appeal to people not to be short-sighted and not to be taken in by fairy godmother economics," he said.
Mr Penrose also said that public servants had to start "waking up" and realise what Labour was doing to protect the Croke Park Agreement.
"Without the Labour Party input, I would say that would have been knocked," he said.
Labour Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy said he would not fear polls so far out from a general election.
"Winning Dail seats doesn't happen on the back of opinion polls. It's the hard slog that someone puts in," he said.
Labour Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys said his colleagues were taking the "long view" and knew that there were going to be unpopular decisions to get the country back working.
But on the latest poll figures, even Education Minister Ruairi Quinn could be under pressure. He and Mr Humphreys are in the constituency which delights in dropping former ministers -- such as the PD leader Michael McDowell and former Green Party leader John Gormley.