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Varadkar now most popular taoiseach since Ahern

Inside Politics: Fianna Fáil’s failure to secure any political bounce is a worry for the party

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also sees his approval rating escalating to 60 per cent. Photograph: Niall Carson /PA Wire

Good morning and this morning’s paper leads with the latest Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll on the state of the parties.

Fine Gael leads with 34 per cent, leaving its nearest rivals Fianna Fáil nine points in its trail.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also sees his approval rating escalating to 60 per cent, an increase of seven per cent.

Needless to say, the poll will bring welcome news to Fine Gael and marks the beginning of an upwards trend since Varadkar’s appointment.


Events have assisted. There is no doubt the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations have played a significant role in boosting Fine Gael in the eyes of voters.

However, Varadkar’s wide appeal to the electorate is increasingly evident in the opinion polls and will be a cause for concern for those opposite him.

There is little movement otherwise. For Fianna Fáil, the support remains steady at 25 per cent but it is still struggling in Dublin and with younger voters.

Support for Micheál Martin drops slightly but his position on the Eighth Amendment does not appear to have caused any significant difficulties for the party leader.

However, Fianna Fáil’s failure to secure any political bounce in spite of the Government’s poor performances in health and housing will be a worry for the party leadership.

Sinn Féin's supports remains static at 19 per cent, despite the change in leadership and Mary Lou McDonald's appointment. For the Labour party, it continues to stand still at 4 per cent.

There will be many who will downplay the poll results and stress their party’s performance is under represented.

Fianna Fáil will lead this charge but even the sunniest of outlooks will acknowledge the dark skies forming above them.

Polls may be a flash point in time but there is no doubt Varadkar and Fine Gael are currently eclipsing their opponents.


The Dáil will continue its debate on the Eighth Amendment today where it is expected a number of TDs will outline their positions.

However, we are still waiting to hear the Taoiseach's position on the recommendations. This was raised by the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last night.

Politicians have duty to outline Eighth Amendment stance, the Dáil has been told.

A special Cabinet meeting has been called for Monday to proceed with the preparations for a referendum campaign.

It is expected Leo Varadkar will outline his position after that meeting and all the indications are that he will support the proposal to repeal the Eighth Amendment and allow the Oireachtas to legislate for abortions up to 12 weeks.

He will only do this when the referendum date is known and an outline of what the question will be.

This will be known after Monday's meeting. Minister for Health Simon Harris will also ask the Government to formally adopt the Oireachtas committee recommendations and to allow him to draft legislation in this regard.

Varadkar has been strategic in the way he has approached this matter. He is engaged in a “listening exercise” and people have been patient in this regard.

However, politicians are elected to lead and the Taoiseach has more responsibility than any other in this regard.