Majority of voters believe Gerry Adams was in IRA
Poll shows Alan Shatter controversy damaged Fine Gael
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams: Better-off voters and farmers were more inclined to say he was a member of the IRA than working class voters. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
A large majority of voters believe Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA despite his consistent denials, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.
However, the poll also shows that Mr Adams’s arrest as part of the police inquiry into Jean McConville’s murder will have no impact on how the majority of people vote.
Asked if they believe that Mr Adams was or was not a member of the IRA 68 per cent said he was, 9 per cent said he was not and 23 per cent had no opinion.
Sinn Féin voters were much more inclined than supporters of other parties to say Mr Adams was not a member of the IRA but even so a majority of them said he was.
Better-off voters and farmers were more inclined to say he was a member than working class voters.
Asked if they were more or less likely to vote Sinn Féin in the light of the Adams arrest, 7 per cent said they were more likely, 22 per cent said less likely, 65 per cent said it would have no impact and 6 per cent had no opinion.
More women than men said they were less likely to vote Sinn Féin in the light of the arrest.
The youngest, 18 to 24 age group, were twice as likely as the over-65s to say they were less likely to vote for Mr Adams as a result of the arrest.
In terms of party support Sinn Féin voters differed markedly from the rest with a significant number saying they were more likely to support the party following the arrest of Mr Adams.
Few supporters of the other major parties said they were more likely to vote for Mr Adams as a result of his arrest but the bulk of them said that the episode would not affect their decision.
The poll also showed that the controversies surrounding former minister for justice Alan Shatter had a damaging impact on Fine Gael.
Asked about Mr Shatter’s resignation 19 per cent said he was right to resign when he did, 61 per cent said he should have resigned sooner, 8 per cent said he should not have resigned at all and 12 per cent had no opinion.
There was little variation across age or social class but Fine Gael and Labour voters were a little more supportive of Mr Shatter than the average.
Older people, aged over 65, were more inclined than younger voters to say that Mr Shatter should have resigned earlier.
In regional terms, people in Dublin were more inclined than those elsewhere in the country to say that he should not have resigned at all.
Asked if the resignation would make them more or less likely to vote Fine Gael in Friday’s elections 5 per cent said more likely, 21 per cent said less likely, 68 per cent said it would have no impact on their decision and 6 per cent said they didn’t know.
Young people were more likely to say that the resignation would make them less likely to vote Fine Gael than those aged over 65 but there was little variation across other age groups.
Not surprisingly Fine Gael voters were much more inclined to say the controversy would have no impact on the likelihood of their voting for the party.