Cowen disappointed at 'poor' result


Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said the “tide of public opinion” is against Fianna Fáil as the party suffered a large drop in support in local and European elections.

Mr Cowen described the results as “disappointing” and “poor” by the party’s standards.

“Sometimes in politics when you take necessary decisions you have to put the country first even if it means the short term political popularity of a party is affected,” Mr Cowen said

“We have to continue with the work that we have set out and that is to fix this recession to put this country back on the road and to use the mandate that we have until 2012 to do so,” the Taoiseach added.

Later the former leader of the Green Party Trevor Sargent said the “best hope for the country is for the greens to remain in Government”.

According to an exit poll released today both Labour and Fine Gael have made gains in the survey of 3,300 voters leaving polling stations yesterday. Some 17 per cent of those interviewed said they had voted for Fianna Fáil in the General Election but not in yesterday's ballots.

Fianna Fáil will get just 24 per cent of the local election vote, which is eight points lower than in the 2004 election. Fine Gael is on 34 per cent, 6.5 percentage points ahead of its 2004 result, while Labour is on 17 per cent, up five points, according to the exit poll.

It puts the Greens on three per cent, Sinn Féin nine per cent, and Independents and others on 13 per cent.

Speaking after the exit poll was released, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said: "This is not nice and it's not nice for our people. (But) we are in this for the five years and we will continue."

Voters were also asked who they had given their first preference votes to in the European elections.

Thirty per cent said they had give Fine Gael their first preference in the European vote, two points up, while Fianna Fail got 23 per cent, down 6.5 per cent on 2004. Labour stood at 16 per cent, up 5.5 per cent, while Sinn Féin was slightly up on five years ago at 12 per cent. The Green Party was on two per cent and Others on 17 per cent in the exit poll.

The exit poll put Libertas on 4 per cent of first preference votes in the European elections. Declan Ganley's party is fighting for seats in three constituencies, with Mr Ganley reported to be polling strongly himself in the North West constituency.

The Socialist Party recorded a national figure of 3 per cent, all from Joe Higgins in Dublin.

The exit poll was conducted by Lansdowne on behalf of RTÉ and the Sunday Independent . It has a margin of error of 1.7 per cent. However, exit polls during the last General Election proved to be extremely accurate.