Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail party is losing ground amid a swing to the more progressive parties, according to the latest 26-County poll conducted by the Red C organisation.
The latest tracking poll, conducted for the Sunday Business Post, shows support for Fianna Fail slumping to its pre-budget level of 33 per cent from 37 per cent in January.
The poll was conducted early last week, following a month where the news has been dominated by the Dublin riots and growing public concern about crime and healthcare. It shows Fianna Fail on a downward trend month-on-month so far this year.
The Progressive Democrats, the junior partners in the Dublin coalition government, are remarkable unscathed by the continuing controversies surrounding Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and public anger over the treatment of Ireland’s elderly in emergency hospital care.
Despite the emotional comments of well-known Irish actor Brendan Gleason on the Late Late talk show, the public has failed to blame PD leader and Minister for Health Mary Harney for the crisis in Ireland’s accident and emergency wards, with the party’s support remaining at 4 per cent.
Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael remains the largest opposition party in the 26 Counties, but its support has remained static, at 25 per cent.
Sinn Féin is now the third largest party in the 26 Counties at eleven percent alongside Labour, which is at a new low following its alignment with the right-wing Fine Gael.
Support for the Green Party has risen to 7 per cent from 5 per cent, possibly due its identification with the growing anti-war movement.
The Dublin riots are thought to have played a factor in changes in party identification in the capital, where there has been a significant shift to the left.
Fianna Fail support is significantly weaker in Dublin, where it achieves just 31 per cent support. However, Fine Gael does not capitalise on this, as it also receives a much lower share of support, at 17 per cent.
Among the parties that gain in Dublin is the Labour Party, with 15 per cent first preference share, 3 per cent above its national share. Sinn Féin has reached 12 per cent of support in Dublin, 2 per cent above its national share, while the Green Party takes a high 12 per cent share of the first preference vote, 5 per cent above the national share in the first three months of the year.
Parts of Leinster outside Dublin are where Fianna Fail’s support is at its highest, with 40 per cent of first preference support, significantly above its national share. Sinn Féin, the Green Party and independent candidates take a lesser share of the support here than they do nationally.
Fine Gael has its highest level of support in Munster, Connacht and Ulster, at 29 per cent, but Fianna Fail is also relatively strong in these regions.
Sinn Féin records its strongest share of first preference support in Connacht and Ulster at 15 per cent, which is 5 per cent above its national support. This is also where the Green Party support is at its weakest.