Voters turning against Fianna Fail

The Dublin government has fallen to its lowest poll rating for almost two years, according to the latest opinion poll, while the opposition parties have all scored increases.

Support for Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail party has fallen 6 percentage points to 32 per cent since the last such poll in February, while Sinn Féin has returned to its most recent high at 11 per cent.

Satisfaction with the Government and the Taoiseach have also fallen significantly. A majority, 51 per cent, is dissatisfied with the Government’s performance, up 9 points. Mr Ahern’s personal rating at 54 per cent is down 4 percentage points since the last poll in February.

The state of the parties is: Fianna Fail 32 per cent, down 6 points; Fine Gael 25 per cent, up 3; Labour 14 per cent, up 2; Sinn Féin 11 per cent, up 2; Green Party 4 per cent, unchanged; Progressive Democrats 4 per cent, up 1; Independents and others 9 per cent, down 3.

Some 16 per cent were undecided or had no opinion, down 1.

The poll was conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday among a national quota sample of 1,000 voters throughout all constituencies in the State.

The parties to a possible alternative coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party now have combined support of 43 per cent, compared to 36 per cent for the current Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrats combination.

The Labour Party’s recent decision to work towards an alternative government with a pre-election voting and policy pact with Fine Gael still falls well short of the required support. On these figures, if an election were to be called today, Sinn Féin would hold the balance of power in the Dublin parliament.

The Fianna Fail vote has fallen back to the low levels it received when accused of breaking promises after the 2002 election. It follows a litany of setbacks and scandals over inadequate and expensive public services.

Sinn Féin support has climbed back to the 11 per cent level it was at last January, before the dip to 9 per cent seen in February following the killing of Robert McCartney and continued allegations over the Northern Bank robbery.

The rise in Gerry Adams’s personal approval rating from 30 to 38 per cent since February also suggests that some of the damage done to the party after those incidents was short-term.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said that remarks he made at a private Progressive Democrats’ meeting criticising elements in Fianna Fail had been “quoted out of context” in yesterday’s Sunday Independent.

During the meeting last month he was reported as having described FF elements as “cowardly”, “ruthless”, “underhand”, “resurgent” and “dangerous”.

A spokesman for Mr McDowell said any suggestion these comments were an attack on Fianna Fail was “a gross distortion”.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News