Fine Gael support bounces back after 12-year low in last poll

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: SF up and backing for Adams unchanged despite scandals

Support for Fine Gael has recovered, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, which also shows a significant rise in satisfaction with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Government.

Sinn Féin has also gained support since the last poll in December, despite the controversy over sex abuse cases in the republican movement.

Independents and smaller parties are still attracting a high level of support, although this has slipped since the last poll, while support for Fianna Fáil has also fallen back.

When people were asked who they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow, party support – when undecideds are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll in December was: Fine Gael, 24 per cent (up five points); Labour, 7 per cent (up one point); Fianna Fáil, 17 per cent (down four points); Sinn Féin, 24 per cent (up two points); and Independents/Others, 28 per cent (down four points).

The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.

Core vote

The core vote for the parties – before undecideds are excluded – compared with the last poll was: Fine Gael, 18 per cent (up three points); Labour, 5 per cent (no change); Fianna Fáil, 13 per cent (down three points); Sinn Féin, 18 per cent (up one point); Independents/Others, 22 per cent (down three); and undecided voters, 24 per cent (up two).

The jump of five points for Fine Gael will come as a relief to the party, which sank to a 12-year low in the last poll after the succession of controversies that dogged the Coalition throughout 2014. Fine Gael has also regained its position as the leading party in Dublin, with 25 per cent of the vote.

The recovery in the party's support is reflected in a nine-point rise in the satisfaction rating for Mr Kenny and an eight-point increase in the Government's satisfaction rating.

The news for Labour is less dramatic, with a one-point increase in support - but party leader Joan Burton has seen a six-point rise in her rating and she is the most popular party leader.

Sinn Féin support has increased by two points since the last poll in spite of the continuing controversies surrounding sexual abuse in the republican movement.

Paudie McGahon

Asked whether they were more or less likely to vote for Sinn Féin in light of the party’s handling of the Paudie McGahon affair, 3 per cent said they were more likely, 36 per cent less likely, 53 per cent said it would make no difference and 8 per cent had no opinion.

Among Sinn Féin supporters, 11 per cent said they were more likely to support the party, 74 per cent said it made no difference and 11 per cent said they were less likely.

However, Sinn Féin support in Dublin has slipped since the last poll, while it has improved its position in Connacht-Ulster.

Satisfaction with party leader Gerry Adams remained unchanged at 26 per cent.

Bad news

The poll contains bad news for Fianna Fáil, with the party dropping four points since December with a marginal decline in support for party leader Micheál Martin.

The party remains weak in the capital and is not much stronger in the rest of Leinster.

Support for Independents and smaller parties has dropped by four points since the last poll, but it is still a substantial 28 per cent.

When that figure is broken down, 21 per cent say they will vote Independent, 3 per cent will vote for the Green Party and 4 per cent for other smaller parties or groups.

In Dublin, the figure for Independents/Others rises to a massive 35 per cent, with strong support in all social categories.