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Sinn Féin rises on a cloud of taxes and spending promises

Editorial


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'The poll could be just a blip, but the trend suggests otherwise' (stock photo)

'The poll could be just a blip, but the trend suggests otherwise' (stock photo)

'The poll could be just a blip, but the trend suggests otherwise' (stock photo)

'Every time you come in yelling that God damn 'Rise and Shine!' 'Rise and Shine!' I say to myself, "How lucky dead people are!"

The above macarbre quote is from Tennessee Williams's 'The Glass Menagerie'.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's "rise and shine" moment has surely come in the latest opinion poll.

For Fine Gael, the party of "law and order" to be trailing Sinn Féin - so long apologists for the IRA - the shock must be severe.

For Fianna Fáil, the self-appointed "natural party of government", the findings will have been equally unnerving.

When you factor in the results of the latest 'Irish Times' poll, the combined vote for the two big parties is only 42pc, according to an RTÉ poll of polls.

This is the lowest point since polling began.

In 2017 the figure was 65pc.

Last week we wrote in these pages the country has reached a watershed.

Whether we are truly seeing a reversal of the old order is still hard to call but Sinn Féin is currently on course to be a major force in the 33rd Dáil.

Their progression to government is a different matter. Miscalculating on their own popularity may have cost them seats due to the lack of candidates.

The larger parties flayed about yesterday, lashing out in all directions. With three days to go, they would be better off making a more compelling case for themselves.

The only result that counts is Saturday's.

But be in no doubt there will be dark nights of the soul for both Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar should things play out as predicted.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney issued a "direct appeal to everyone", asking them to consider who they trusted. "Voters are being promised levels of spending and policies that would cripple the Irish economy again," he warned.

Indeed no one has been more profligate in their promises as Sinn Féin. These include slashing the USC, abolition of the property tax, taxes for businesses and an increase of public spending by €22bn in the next five years.

Spending on such a staggering scale raises the question as to whether the change they are offering is that which will be left rattling in the bottom of the national purse.

All this might be highly desirable. Over the next 72 hours voters will get to decide whether it is credible.

We have a national debt already of €222bn. Are we witnessing a brazen bid for the party to buy its way in from the cold?

The poll could be just a blip, but the trend suggests otherwise.

How fundamentally the picture has been transformed is evidenced by the fact that Mr Coveney could not yesterday rule out a grand FF/FG coalition.

For Sinn Féin to emerge as the most popular party in the country marks a transformation in perception.

But whether this translates into reality will depend not on surveys but the trust of voters.

Irish Independent