Despite SF's claim that Adams is asset, poll shows it would do much better without him
HALF the nation believes Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is a liar. They do not accept his statements he was not involved in the abduction, murder and disappearance of widowed mother of 10 children, Jean McConville.
That is the standout finding of an opinion poll for the Irish Independent today. The result shows that Mr Adams remains the most divisive figure in Irish public life.
And the huge level of popular disbelief in his assertions about Jean McConville mirrors the rejection, in both Ireland and Britain by politicians on all sides, of his often-repeated denials of ever being a member of the IRA.
The party turned his arrest for questioning about Jean McConville's murder on April 30, and his subsequent four-day detention, into a rallying call to galvanise their diehard supporters. But this survey also shows that one in five Irish people would be more likely to vote Sinn Fein with a leader other than Gerry Adams.
This indicates that the party would do much better without him. It is also at variance with the party hierarchy's claims that Adams's leadership is an asset and that he is unfairly criticised by "the Dublin media" generally, while they single out this newspaper for special mention.
This Milward Brown/Irish Independent opinion poll shows that 45pc of people believe Mr Adams was linked to the Jean McConville atrocity. Some 23pc – about equivalent to SF's national poll rankings at present – believe he was not involved in Jean McConville's death. And 32pc do not know what to think about it all.
But in both the constituencies which we also focus upon today, Midlands-North-West and South, Sinn Fein look set to take a seat. Bar upsets, Liadh Ni Riada in South and Matt Carthy in Midlands-North-West, appear likely to win.
Apart from Sinn Fein, this Millward Brown/Irish Independent opinion poll brings good news for independents, but a tale of woe for Labour and Fianna Fail. It could even be a chronicle of a political death foretold for respective leaders Eamon Gilmore and/or Micheal Martin. And Fine Gael? Well, all signs are that it could knock this one off rather nicely.
In Midlands-North-West, Roscommon-based Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan, is challenging for a seat. Long-serving Independent Marian Harkin appears to be struggling but she is extremely transfer-friendly with the potential to pull later preferences from all over the 15 counties in this rambling constituency.
Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness looks far from safe but should take a seat as she is also transfer-friendly.
But FF's outgoing MEP, Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher of Donegal, is up while Senator Thomas Byrne is down when compared with our last survey. Together they have a quota but it is also a gut struggle between the two.
FF strategists will fear they could drag each other down and they could then drag party leader Micheal Martin after them.
Transfers will tell all as the combined 'also-rans' have another quota between to be distributed.
FG veteran Jim Higgins is on 6pc; Labour's Lorraine Higgins has 5pc; Independent Senator Ronan Mullen also has 5pc; the Green Party's Councillor Mark Dearey has 3pc. The destination of those papers in the later counts will decide one or two Euro seats and have a bearing on the fate of a national political leader.
Down South things are much simpler. Fianna Fail's Brian Crowely remains streets ahead and SF look good but with the caveat as discussed.
FF is paying a huge price for not getting a second 'name', preferably in the north of this Munster-South Leinster 10-county constituency. This and the lack of a good Independent have left the door open wide for Fine Gael.
FG standard bearer Sean Kelly and his team appear to have got their act together. The final South constituency seat could be a battle between Senator Deirdre Clune of Cork and Deputy Simon Harris of Wicklow. What odds on Harris, the only high-profile Leinster candidate, overtaking Clune?
Labour's Phil Prendergast is off the pace on 6pc, continuing Labour's and Eamon Gilmore's tale of woe. She also continues to believe Mr Gilmore has to be replaced as party leader. This rebellion may have been worth 1pc – the difference between herself and the showing of loyalist Lorraine Higgins in Midlands-North-West.
All parties will await the outcome of our poll in three-seat Dublin, to be published tomorrow in the 'Sunday Independent'. FF and Labour will be keener than most as both their party leaders' fates may lie here.
European elections have turned up well for Enda Kenny since he took over a very beleaguered Fine Gael in June 2002.
This one might be the luckiest of them so far.