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'Burton bounce' will give Labour clout in Budget

THE ball is in Tanaiste Joan Burton's court in terms of negotiation power following the significant bounce in public support, Labour Party members have insisted.

The latest opinion poll yesterday revealed Labour has doubled its support since Ms Burton replaced Eamon Gilmore as Labour leader.

The Behaviour and Attitudes poll, published in The Sunday Times, shows support for the junior coalition rise from 7pc to 14pc.

Although the increase is a significant bounce for battle-weary Labour, senior figures said that Burton must use this strong position to play tough with Fine Gael.

Approach

Labour sources said that the party is preparing to adopt a "much stronger approach" ahead of the upcoming Budget negotiations.

"This poll bounce shows we are far from being dead in the water," the source said.

"But of course, we need to show more clout and Fine Gael will learn that very quickly."

Labour TDs and senators agreed that the party's approach to being in coalition in Fine Gael must now change.

Dublin Mid-West TD Joanna Tuffy told the Herald that Joan Burton and Labour ministers must now "play hard ball" with Fine Gael.

"We need to play hard ball, to put up a tougher approach," she said.

"We really need to get in there and fight for our values, the Labour Party's future and its members."

Ms Tuffy agreed that the local elections were "devastating" for the party but were a "wake up call". The party had success with just 51 councillors now serving in local government, prompting Eamon Gilmore to resign from his position as Labour leader and as Tanaiste.

"They were a wake up call to say the least," Ms Tuffy said.

"They brought something home to me about what our party and ourselves need to do - we need to get our message across and help people in the process."

Ms Tuffy's constituency colleague Robert Dowds said the result will "provide a boost" to Ms Burton.

Muscle

"Labour has always shown muscle in this government and under Joan's leadership, we will continue to show muscle," he said.

Despite Labour's bounce in support, the opinion poll shows that the Government has seen its popularity fall.

Support for the coalition is now at 27pc, a one point drop since May.

Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and the Independents have suffered a 2pc fall in support.

In relation to the party leaders, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams remains the most popular but he is followed closely by Joan Burton.

The findings show that Enda Kenny is the least popular leader of the mainstream parties and has a lower satisfaction record than Green party leader Eamon Ryan.

The next General Election is due to take place in April 2016.

ANDREW LYNCH: P14


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