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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 26, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    Bad Breakfast Reading for Fianna Fail and Labour

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    First, the health warning: one swallow doesn’t make a summer and it would be wrong to over-interpret a single opinion poll. Nevertheless the figures in today’s Sunday Times Behaviour and Attitudes survey will make alarming reading for Fianna Fail and Labour.

    FF is down from 20% to 16%, Labour falls from 11% to 10%. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein goes up from 21% to 25% and becomes the second most popular party behind Fine Gael which, interestingly, goes up two points to 32%.

    The Fianna Fail ardfheis (annual conference) takes place in Dublin this coming weekend and these are not the type of figures the party wants to see before an event like that. What chance a triumphal, “Arise Knocknagoshel and take your place among the nations of the earth” atmosphere with the party apparently in the doldrums with the public?

    Last October’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll gave the following results: Fine Gael, 35 per cent (down three points); Labour, 17 per cent (down one point); Fianna Fáil, 16 per cent (down two points); Sinn Féin, 18 per cent (up eight points); Green Party, 2 per cent (no change); and Independents/Others, 12 per cent (down two points).

    A lot of attention has focused on FF’s stance vis-a-vis the European fiscal treaty. With its strong pro-EU history and leader Micheal Martin’s major role as foreign minister in getting the Lisbon Treaty passed the second time, there was no way the party was going to make negative noises when the new compact was being negotiated.

    But with Sinn Fein adopting a clear-cut No stance, FF felt obliged to call for a consultative referendum and, while declaring support for the treaty in principle, the party demanded clarification of certain points, mainly of a legal and technical nature, before they came out in full-blooded support of the document.

    The FF stance is highly-nuanced and, for the ordinary punter, somewhat confusing. There is no history of consultative referendums in this State and one suspects that Sean or Sinead Citizen will wonder what the Soldiers of Destiny are on about.

    Who would want to be in Micheal Martin’s position today? He is leading a mixed-ability team with some very good performers and others who are hiding their light under a bushel – if they have a light to hide, that is.

    Martin is a very bright man with a good grasp of policy issues. He was rightly praised for his initiative in bringing about the ban on smoking in the workplace, pubs, etc. But he has an unfortunate way with him in media interviews. If he doesn’t like the line of questioning, he just keeps talking and talking, apparently hoping the questioner will get tired and give up the ghost.

    He is also longwinded and rarely confines himself to one paragraph where nine will do. He should read and re-read the Gettysburg Address every morning for the next three months. It is 268 words long and the message is crystal clear; Martin’s recent address to the IIEA on Europe was 5,093 words and still left reporters wondering where exactly he stood on the key issue of the fiscal treaty.

    Meanwhile, one wonders when the other parties in the Dail are going to do their homework and compare what Sinn  Fein is doing in the North with its professed policies on this side of the Border, not least on the European issue. The “Shinners” are getting a free ride from lazy opponents.

    If the party’s current rise in popularity continues and ends up being reflected in a general election, SF is going to be faced with a dilemma. Should it go into government, where it would willy-nilly have to adopt policies broadly similar to the present administration and its predecessor (unless it wanted us to become another Argentina), or remain in opposition where it can continue its present populist line?

    Labour in opposition took stances very similar to the ones being espoused by Sinn Fein at present. We all remember: “It’s Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way.” Well now they are in government and it looks very much like Frankfurt’s Way most of the time.

    Yet, if Sinn Fein is to advance its all-Ireland agenda, the party needs to be in office in Dublin as well as Belfast.

    At the same time, FG was populist in a country-cute way in opposition and has just gone up two points. Tell us your secret, Enda!

    • barb.ie says:

      The Labour Party will continue to go down the polls…..oh and btw I read today that Gilmore is now about to fork out €1,000,000 for the “refurbishment” of Ireland’s historic Embassy to the Holy See at Rome as it is being “made ready” for its takeover…………BEGONE YOU HYPOCRITES………economic reasons howareya……….

    • taxpayer says:

      take no heed of fianna fail ,what can they expect while they still trust old fogeys( martin , o’cuiv , o’dea etc) that got us into this mess. labour on the other hand were never to be trusted as they are made up of turncoats from the workers party. socialist party etc etc. what little belief people had in them has evaporated through their croneyism antics and poor policy decisions

    • Peadar Atkins says:

      Couldn’t you make you anti Sinn Fein bias a little more subtle?

      We need thorough and objective analysis of political affairs, not populist rantings that might appeal to a certain demographic. The Irish Times is arguably the last bastion of good journalism left in this country; you need to do better.

    • Des Canine says:

      Bland, unreflective brain-dead mush.

      “FG was populist in a country-cute way in opposition and has just gone up two points. Tell us your secret, Enda!”

      The “secret”, Mr Dipstick, is that 2% is statistically insignificant and to write an article based on it the lazy work of an Establishment sinecurist,

      As for Argentina, reality check: we are heading that way anyway. And no amount of bilge from innumerate time-servers can change that.

      And as for Sinn Fein – different strokes for different Failed Entities.

    • jaygee says:

      Very puzzling, but interesting figures. The increase for FG is probably explainable by Labour acting as a shield (being the minor Party in the coalition, as is happening in the Uk with the Tories and Lib Dems). The rise for SF is hard to understand and suggests a lack of political nous with the other Parties as you mention. I would have thought that the performance of SF in office in the North , where it is having to implement some difficult policies in collaboration with its partners would awaken voters to the realities of trying to fulfill promises when someone else controls the purse~strings.

    • Peadar a chara: “populist rantings that might appeal to a certain demographic” sounds like most Irish opposition parties of the last, I don’t know how many years. FF’s problem is that, unlike SF, they cannot indulge, as they were in government when the bailout was agreed.

      Des Canine; You have a good turn of phrase. “Different strokes for different failed entities” – I like it!

    • barb.ie says:

      Deaglán omitted to mention that satisfaction with Taoiseach Enda Kenny is down three points to 41%
      That will change (for the better) if he overrides Gilmores’s dreadful decision to close Ireland’s historic embassy to the Holy See at Rome. Anyway, who owns the Sunday Times these days? Behaviour and Attitudes Survey !! What the blazes is that????????

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Heh. In fact, not just heh. ROTFLMFAO.
      Schadenfreude. Just the sauce to go with dishes best served cold.

    • Kynos says:

      Janey Hard Oax/Balls of Everything/Desmond/DX/etc. is that you me oul’ segocia? THought you were trapped in some alternative timension on the dead Breaking News poll.

    • barbera says:

      I read (present tense) a quote by Dara Calleary in a piece by Harry McGee today re the upcoming FF ardfheis
      “He [Dara Calleary] also confirmed that the party has made a complaint to RTÉ about alleged bias by Prime Time in its coverage of the party. “We have difficulties with Prime Time>/i>. We have prepared a case. We represent 400,000 people. They have a right to be heard.”

      Who do these Montrose moguls think they are??

    • Paul says:

      @Peadar – it would be career suicide for DdeB to give SF a fair shake – he tells his readership what they want to hear i.e. there is no alternative to austerity. The fact is that most of the IT readership are relatively happy with the way things are, they whinge a bit about being the squeezed middle, but they;re doing ok. No big changes please – we’re iconservative FG voters and pseudo liberal soppy labour voters. They’re all terrified of SF – a party with balls. Our middle class are paralysed with fear, poor dears.

    • Jim Connolly says:

      My God, Ireland has an organized party that is willing to stand up to the banking cartel and the vengeful bureaucrats of the EU?! You don’t say! What did they do to deserve a plucky bunch like Sinn Fein? And all the IT commentators can do is carp and carp about their Northern origins.

    • Scarecrows Of The Stipe says:

      I was in Argentina in 2002 when the economy collapsed. Dont want to see a repeat of it here thats for sure…….

      It doesnt surpise me in the least that Sinn Fein are getting more popular. FG were all talk when in oppostion and look at them now. Labour are the same . Not a meg out of them about issues which you would think they should be concerned with , like nationalising the Corrib Gas Field…..and FF , well I dont even have to go into the damage they caused. Greens committed political suicide going into govt the last time. It will take years for them to re-build. I suggest a name change in fact.

      So , apart from Independents , that just leaves SF. Would they do anything worthwhile if in power ? Who knows, but I can see them getting more & more support as this economic crisis continues……………

    • jaygee says:

      Wonder if Enda is still basking in brownie point glory for having shucked off the traditional Irish politicians deference to the Vatican.
      Reckon previous non FG supporters are giving him big plaudits, despite themselves.

    • barbera says:

      Re Fintan O’Toole’s Op/Analysis piece in today’s Irish Times, I would say that we “know” a helluva lot more than the carefully-selected-outrage-inducing old chestnuts that Fintan is trotting out here. We know that his beloved Labour Party and their Dear Leader are becoming more and more despised as the tissue (woven fabric) of false promises with which they ingratiated themselves into government slowly but surely is unravelling and their actual agenda (in particular, anti-Catholic) has become clear. The closure of Ireland’s historic embassy to the Holy See at Rome for “economic” reasons will go down in the annals as the greatest diplomatic blunder in the history of this State, which from its inception c 1929, the Holy See has played such a significant and symbolic role in its history and ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that we now know our Dear Tanaiste is about to spend €1,000,000 on the “refurbishment” of the Villa Nobili Spada.
      It is not too late for our Taoiseach (a practising Roman Catholic) to reverse this dreadful blunder.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      I wouldn’t mind if they’d even show a bit of humility, a bit of sincere and genuine repentance. That might indicate that they have learned from the incalculably costly errors of their ways. You can take that mutatis mutandis for both FF and the RCC.

    • barb.ie says:

      What are ya on about O’Driscoll? That appalling decision to close Ireland’s historic embassy to the Holy See was taken by Eamon Gilmore to upstage Enda Kenny, who had (inadvertently or misguidedly imo) gained some crass ovation from all the usual lefties in the media and some knee-jerk applause from all the usual misguided à la carte “Catholics” that haven’t seen the inside of church since the Celtic Tiger cub hit puberty and began to stalk the country. Gilmore is probably threatening Kenny about pulling the plug on the coalition if he overrides Gilmore’s decision which was made for “economic” reasons MAR DHEA writ large. Kenny should call his bluff. How very dare the pesky little Labour Tanaiste insult Ireland’s Roman Catholics and the Holy See with his petty little shenanigans…make a laughing stock out of us before he’s finished and no mistake…and in my opinion it is because of Gilmore and his outmoded party’s carry on that a lot of people will be tempted to VOTE NO in the upcoming referendum which the AG has decided upon.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Oh the sweet irony of Sinn Féin coming a cropper due to printer toners – the contents of which is not dissimilar to the ink they use for finger printing, something the SFers will of course have experience of.

      Just goes to show there isn’t one single TD (not even the one who didn’t claim any expenses but did claim the maximum possible for every other allowance but doesn’t publish receipts to show that money is spent but still he’s far and away a better example than any of his colleagues) who doesn’t abuse the system for their own benefit.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      If you don’t know what I mean, barb, then it must be a VERY comfortable rock you’ve been under these past two decades and I’d suggest you just keep on staying under it. Probably the safest place to be given what karma dushta’s coming home to roost for both FF and the RCC.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      And needless to say, for the rest of us as well. Dushtas always destroy themselves, say our Hindu brethren, along with anyone else misfortunate enuf to be around them at the time.

    • jaygee says:

      “the greatest dip;omatic blunder in the history of this State”

      How about Dev’s visit to Herr Hempel to convey his condolences on the death of Hitler ?

      Mind you nothing Gilmore can do will equal the horrors perpetrated on generations of Irish children by your internationally discredited Organisation.

    • Scarecrows Of The Stipe says:

      @ 18

      that was all a mis-understanding.

      Gerry Adams rang him up and said he needed a few cartridges………….!

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      You’d wonder was Martin the bulletstopper to take the flak and somehow diffuse it into steam in the immediate heat post-General Election and thereafter given he’d survive to maintain FF in cryogenic mode pending the emergence of some new messiah to lead the Soldiers of Fortune sorry Destiny back to glory? And now O’Cuiv his old rival threatens I’d say to break off a rump and potentially setup a new rival with someone like McDowell that’ll ”enshrine traditional Republican values” with a ”new ”EU focusesed destiny” or some such rot. Leaving Martin to drift off into the Celtic Mist of obscurity with his discredited band of no-hopers led by the ghosts of Haughey Burke Lawlor and Ahern(x2. Not to mention Cowen. Indeed never to mention Cowen. Again.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Isn’t it better to catch SF with inky hands rather than what damn’d spots their associates had on them before? At least ink washes off and you don’t even need all the perfumes of Arabia.

    • barb.ie says:

      @ 21 — Wrong. Ireland was neutral at the time and a neutral country follows the rules of diplomatic protocol which Dev followed to a T (albeit against the advice of some advisers) which involved formally conveying condolences to the German Minister in Dublin on the death of the leader of his country. The horrors of the holocaust had not as yet become known. And also, at the time, it was a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend.
      Eamon Gilmore is not fit to tie the laces of even Dev’s oldest shoes..!

    • JOD says:

      What are you on about barb sure what was being done to the Jews was known by every dog and divil from around 1943 and therefore deV knew as well as Churchill did not least because his good friend Chaim Herzog Chief Rabbi of Ireland was telling him. Not that he was hearing at that time.
      Churchill also remarked in his history of World War 2 (The Second World War Part 1 I think that Collins when they were discussing the Treaty Ports told him that ”of course you must have the (Treaty) Ports.” Hang on I’ll look it up

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Yep. Here:
      ”Since the beginning of 1938 there had been negotiations between the British Government and that of Mr de Valera in Southern Ireland, and on April 25 an agreement was signed whereby, among other matters, Great Britain renounced all rights to occupy for naval purposes the two Southern Irish ports of Queenstown and Berehaven, and the base in Lough Swilly. The two southern ports were a vital feature in the naval defence of our food supply. When in 1922 as Colonial and Dominions Secretary I had dealt with the details of the Irish Settlement which the Cabinet of those days had made, I brought Admiral Beatty to the Colonial Office to explain to Michael Collins the importance of those ports to our whole system of bringing supplies into Britain. Collins was immediately convinced. ”Of course you must have the ports,” he said; ”they are necessary for your life.” Thus the matter was arranged, and everything had worked smoothly in the sixteen years that had passed. The reason why Queenstown and Berehaven were necessary to our safety is easy to understand. They were the fuelling bases from which our destroyer flotillas ranged westward into the Atlantic to hunt U-boats and protect incoming convoys as they reached the throat of the narrow seas. Lough Swilly was similarly needed to protect the Clyde and the Mersey. To abandon these meant that our flotillas would have to start in the north from Lamlash and in the south from Pembroke Dock or Falmouth, thus decreasing their radius of action and the protection they could afford by more than 400 miles out and home.” (”From War To War” pps 247-248 The Second World War)
      Yeah. That decrease in operational range created a 500 mile wide air gap in the North Atlantic into which the Joint Chiefs estimated after the war around 300 ships and 5000 lives sailed never to return, prey to the gray wolves that fattened the mackerel with the flesh of our kin. My own grandfather’s included, on a personal note.

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