Coalition blames Garda crisis for bad poll

FF says it proves suspected increase in party support

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “At the end of our period in government people will judge us.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “At the end of our period in government people will judge us.”

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 08:25

The Government is blaming its poor performance in the latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll on the ongoing Garda controversies, while Fianna Fáil claimed it confirmed a recent lift in support for the party.

Both Fine Gael and Labour blamed the poor results – with the two parties down 5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively on 25 and eight points – on the turbulent events of recent weeks.

Fianna Fáil is level with Fine Gael on 25 per cent, having climbed three points, while Sinn Féin held its ground on 21 per cent.

While senior figures in Fine Gael admitted it was a bad poll they cautioned against panicking and said the Coalition needed to refocus on jobs and the economy.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday he does not comment on polls. “I deal with the reality of politics and the reality of life every day. At the end of our period in government people will judge us.”

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Charlie Flanagan said the result was “not terribly surprising given the fact that the country has been convulsed by justice, security and Garda matters for the past couple of months”.

Speaking privately, one Fine Gael minister said the poll “might be the jolt we need”, while senior Labour figures said they were “relieved” the Garda controversies were mainly hurting the larger party. Other Labour figures blamed Minster for Justice Alan Shatter for the results.

A Labour source said Fianna Fáil’s recovery could “put manners” on Fine Gael and curb “their worst Tory instincts”.

One Labour backbench deputy said there would have to be serious changes in an anticipated post-election reshuffle later this year, with younger TDs promoted. On the issue of Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s leadership, the TD said “all bets will be off” after the local elections.

Local elections
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton admitted Labour had a “lot of work to do” in the run up to the local elections.

“The poll is obviously disappointing and concerning from the point of view of the Labour Party – it means we have a lot of work to do,” she said, adding she had confidence in Mr Gilmore’s leadership.

Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said his party had been noticing some improvement in its support, which was borne out by the poll.

While Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he does not comment on opinion polls, he claimed the response to his party in the early stages of the local and European campaign had been “extremely” positive.