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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Taoiseach takes little comfort in poll boost

Aidan O'Connor and Conor Kane

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen refused to take comfort in yesterday's opinion poll results, which showed increases in support for Fianna Fail and the Government.

Despite a 5pc gain for the Government, Fianna Fail is still languishing in third place behind Fine Gael and Labour.

In Clonmel yesterday, Mr Cowen did not revel in the 2pc increase in support for his party and a 5pc gain to 19pc in satisfaction for the Government's performance.

He said that the Government's priority was to get on with its work and use its full term to implement its policies.

"No matter what is in the polls, the same job of work has to be done for the country and we're going to do that."

He would not be drawn into speculation on whether consistently poor poll ratings could prompt a cabinet reshuffle.

"I'm not aware of any speculation, apart from what's in the media.

"There will be growth in this economy, we hope, in the second half of this year and we have to support a strategy to promote enterprise and increase export-led growth."


His junior coalition partner blamed its drop in support to 3pc yesterday on a "series of tough but necessary Budgets".

Environment Minister John Gormley said the poll left the party at the same level as this time last year.

However, the Green Party leader saw his personal popularity rise by 2pc to 24pc.

"We hope in the coming weeks to begin advancing the implementation of important items agreed in the renewed Programme for Government," Mr Gormley said.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore was quick to respond to his party's performance in yesterday's poll.

The clear message from the Irish Times/Ipsos, MRBI poll, was that four out of five people want Fianna Fail out of government, and he was one of them, Mr Gilmore said. Despite support for his party dropping 1pc to 24pc, Mr Gilmore remains by far the most popular leader, up 1pc to 46pc.

And he claimed if the poll had been carried out later in the week, when details were released of the banking inquiry, the result for the Government would have been worse. "Politics has really changed, if Fianna Fail are now taking comfort in a less than 20pc approval rating.

If a party in any other country was at the same support levels as Fianna Fail, it wouldn't be sustainable for them to stay in office. "The political contest in the next general election will be a three-way contest between a dilapidated Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party."

Fine Gael frontbench spokesman Fergus O'Dowd defended the drop in support for party leader Enda Kenny.

Despite the Fine Gael party gaining 1pc to 32pc, Mr Kenny's personal support dropped 1pc to 31pc.

"There is no issue with Enda Kenny's leadership.

"He is the most popular leader since Garret FitzGerald, and any time he has led the party into an election, he has proven he rejuvenated Fine Gael," Mr O'Dowd said.

Irish Independent

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