Kenny calls on FG to get vote out for Mitchell


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny said Fine Gael had a “responsibility” to ensure party members voted for candidate Gay Mitchell, after the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll found his support had dropped to 9 per cent.

Mr Kenny, speaking in Dublin yesterday morning, said it was never too late for a candidate to win an election. “It’s important that the party understands that this is a presidential election and therefore they have an onus and responsibility to do everything that they can, and get out the Fine Gael vote,” he added.

Yesterday’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showed Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins was at 23 per cent, up five points, with Independent Seán Gallagher in second place on 20 per cent, up seven points.

Sinn Féin candidate Martin McGuinness, who was not in the previous Irish Times poll, was on 19 per cent. Independent Mary Davis saw no change in her 12 per cent rating, while fellow Independent Senator David Norris dropped 14 points to 11 per cent. Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell was down 12 points and Dana Rosemary Scallon, who was not in the last poll, was at 6 per cent.

A poll conducted by Red C for Paddy Power, released at lunchtime yesterday, echoed the results of the Irish Times poll to a large extent. Mr Higgins’s director of elections, Labour TD Joe Costello, described both polls as “encouraging” for his party’s candidate.

“Both polls show Michael D as the leading candidate, and both show his support increasing across the board. It is very positive that Michael D is ahead in just about every region and that he is picking up support from all sectors of society,” Mr Costello said.

“However, it is still very much early days and these polls also show that there is significant level of volatility among voters. The campaign proper has only got under way in recent days, and there is a great deal of work that remains to be done between now and election day.”

Mr Gallagher pronounced himself “heartened” by the results and said he put them down to his emphasis on positivity.

Mr McGuinness said he was “absolutely delighted” with his performance in the polls. He predicted what he described as “attacks” on him would now cease because they had not worked.

Ms Davis said she had “absolutely no problem” with the results, and insisted she would come out on top.

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton said the results were “disappointing” for the Fine Gael candidate, but insisted they could be turned around. “We are getting in behind our candidate Gay Mitchell. I believe he has the qualities and the energy and the commitment. He represents a decency that I think people will look to and I think those sterling qualities will emerge as the campaign goes on.”