Labour taking ‘81 per cent of criticism’ - Rabbitte

Labour Ministers defend party’s performance in Government after poor poll results

Mon, May 19, 2014, 16:20

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has insisted he does not believe the electorate will “forsake” the Government parties in this week’s local and European elections.

Mr Rabbitte was speaking in Tallaght this morning following the publication of political opinion polls in The Irish Times and elsewhere which predict a poor showing for the Labour Party.

“In 2011 we got more than 19 per cent of the vote; 81 per cent of people didn’t vote for us but we’re taking 81 per cent of the criticism,” he said. If all the people who criticise Labour had voted for the party it would have two overall majorities, he added.

Podcast: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll on European candidates

Labour cabinet colleague Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said it was still “all to play for” despite challenging polls for her party. The party’s advantage was that it had people in the field who voters will recognise on Friday, she said.

Her party colleague Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said Labour was “in the hunt for” the last seat in “two out of the three” constituencies. The commentary on polls was “misleading” because it was “virtually impossible” to predict the three seats in a three seat constituency with such a large number of candidates, he said.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said there will be a “straightforward fight between Emer Costello and Fianna Fáil” for the third and final seat in the Dublin constituency in the European election.

The Fianna Fáil candidate is Mary Fitzpatrick. Polls predict Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan and Brian Hayes of Fine Gael will take seats, with the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan also in contention for the third seat.

Mr Gilmore said an interesting feature of recent opinion polls was that a very large number of people had not yet decided how to vote on Friday.

“With one third of the people yet to make up their minds how they’re going to vote we will certainly be drawing to people’s attention the choice that they face on Friday,” he said.

“It’s a choice between voting for the party which got us into the crisis, Fianna Fáil, or voting for Emer Costello who represents the party that is getting us out of the crisis.”

Mr Gilmore said he believed the Labour Party had always been “transfer friendly”.

Low support

The low support for the Labour Party and the strong prospects for Sinn Féin shown in today’s Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll is reflected into two other polls published today.

With voting in the local and European elections due on Friday, a Red C poll for The Irish Sun today puts Labour at 8 per cent, 11 percentage points below its 2011 General Election showing of 19 per cent.

The Irish Sun poll also reflects the increase in support for Sinn Féin which is up 10 percentage points on the 2011 General Election result to 20 per cent.

The party’s support is up two percentage points since the last Red C poll on May 4th.

Mr Rabbitte said the Government had a plan for economic recovery while Fianna Fáil had “wrecked” the economy and Sinn Féin would do the same, if given the chance.

“I don’t think that the people will forsake the Government,” he said.

“The country is sovereign and solvent again.”

Mr Rabbitte said he understood why people were running out of patience having endured a long recession.

“There are other parties out there who have a soundbite for everything but they don’t have a plan for anything,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte was speaking at the launch of the South Dublin Local Enterprise Office (LEO).

Ms Burton also criticised the policies being espoused by Sinn Fein candidates. Sinn Fein is saying it can decrease taxation, spend more on services and raise public sector wages all in the one go, she said.

She warned that the “very hard won recovery” would be put “in peril” by the kind of promises being put forward by some parties.

Ms Burton said television debates and final days of the campaign would be “crucially important” for the “enormous” number of undecided voters. She was speaking at the launch of an online tool to help jobseekers and employers.

Mr Gilmore said recently published polls showed Emer Costello and Midlands North-West candidate Lorraine Higgins were both in contention for seats in Europe. He did not mention the sitting MEP in Ireland South, Phil Prendergast, who has called for him to step down.

In The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll published today almost 30 per cent of voters expressed no opinion or said they would not vote.

“The interesting thing about all of the polls that have been conducted is the very large number of people who have not yet made up their minds. That’s why our campaign is going to continue right up until 10 o’clock on Friday and I’m confident of the outcome.”

He also said he was “quite confident” about the party’s performance in the local elections.

Poll results

According to The Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll Fianna Fáil is in with a chance of retaining three European Parliament seats but Labour could lose all of its three seats.

The poll shows that Fine Gael looks on course to retain four Euro seats with Sinn Féin set for a major breakthrough with a good chance of winning three seats in Friday’s election.

In Dublin, Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin on 23 per cent and Brian Hayes of Fine Gael on 22 per cent lead the field and are almost certain to be elected.

The third and final seat looks like being a three-way battle between Mary Fitzpatrick of Fianna Fáil, Eamon Ryan of the Green Party and Emer Costello of the Labour Party.

Ms Fitzpatrick is in third place on 12 per cent, followed by Eamon Ryan on 10 per cent, Emer Costello on 9 per cent and Nessa Childers on 8 per cent.

Bríd Smith of People Before Profit follows on 7 per cent with Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party on 6 per cent. Four other candidates are attracting 2 per cent or less.

In the Ireland South constituency, Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley is far ahead of the field on 31 per cent and his massive surplus will have a bearing on the destination of the final seats.

Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada with 19 per cent also looks certain to win a seat. Remarkably, Fine Gael has a good chance of winning two seats in the constituency with Seán Kelly a certainty and Deirdre Clune in the running for the final seat.

The poll was taken last Thursday, Friday and Saturday among a representative sample of 1,500 voters at 150 sampling points around the country with 500 voters in each of the three Euro constituencies.

The accuracy level in the constituency polls is plus or minus 4.5 per cent.

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