Controversies take toll on Coalition as FG suffers five-point reversal

Labour support down as party endures collateral damage

Fine Gael lags behind Fianna Fáil in each region outside Dublin, but never falls below 20 per cent support.

Fine Gael lags behind Fianna Fáil in each region outside Dublin, but never falls below 20 per cent support.

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 01:01

The latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll shows support for the Government has been punctured, most likely by its handling of recent controversies surrounding An Garda Síochána.

Fine Gael registers a drop of five points, down to 25 per cent and on a par with Fianna Fáil who have gained three points since the beginning of the year.

Labour remains stuck in single digits, on 8 per cent, a marginal drop of one point.

On 21 per cent, Sinn Féin have not gained from the loss in support suffered by the Government.

Independents/Others have gained three points, capturing 21 per cent of voting intentions.

Since our last poll in December 2013 – conducted on the eve of our exit from the EU-IMF bailout – the normal business of politics has resumed, with the Government lurching from crisis to crisis while the Opposition attempts to exploit every vulnerability.

Today’s Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, in the wake of various Garda controversies involving whistleblowers, GSOC, the former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.


Motion of no confidence
During interviewing for this poll,

the Garda and Government were once again pushed into the spotlight: another chapter in the Garda taping story was opened with the news that calls between prisoners and their legal representatives had been recorded. Interviewing ended for the poll just as the Dáil voted on a motion of no confidence in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

With so many blows landed, it was inevitable that confidence in the Coalition would be damaged and satisfaction has indeed fallen to 22 per cent, a loss of four points.

In the ordinary course of events, growing consumer confidence and this week’s encouraging economic update delivered by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan would lift satisfaction with the Government. But positive momentum fuelled by economic recovery, much needed by Fine Gael and Labour in advance of local and European elections in May , has failed to materialise. Drowned out, no doubt, by questions on who knew what and when.

Fine Gael have taken the biggest hit in this latest poll. A poll rating of 25 per cent is not new territory – the party was scoring in the mid-20s for most of 2013 – but it signals the end of their post-bailout honeymoon. The party will be hoping that their economic legacy will count for more with voters once the Garda smoke clears.


Kenny approval rating
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s personal satisfaction rating has also suffered, declining three points to 30 per cent approval.

Intriguingly, it is mainly voters aged 50 or older, and/or rural voters who have turned away from Fine Gael recently. This profile is more consistent with the type of voter opposed to same-sex marriage or pylons in their backyard than the type of voter who may be disgruntled with the performance of the Garda. The explanation for Fine Gael’s poll performance may be more nuanced than appears at first glance.


Labour traction
Labour continue to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The

“disgusting” episode in the Garda controversy was yet another political cul-de-sac for Labour. With nowhere to go without threatening the Government’s stability, Labour went nowhere.

Since the 2011 general election, Labour have been denied the oxygen of Opposition and the distinction of leadership. As a result, support has ebbed. In this poll, Labour attract 8 per cent support, scant reward for participating in a Government that has achieved much, even if our economic recovery remains fragile.

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