A ‘long way to go’ before election, says McGrath after Irish Times/Ipsos poll

Support for FG and FF rises in latest opinion poll but individual support levels are still far behind Sinn Féin

There is a “long way to go” until a general election and “there aren’t many matches that are won by half time”, senior Fianna Fáil Minister Michael McGrath has said in response to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos opinion poll on the state of the parties.

Published on Thursday morning, the poll shows increased support for the Coalition parties but Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s individual support levels are still far behind Sinn Féin.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar highlighed how the combined support of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party “is not far off” the support threshold for forming a Government.

Fine Gael has seen a four point increase to 22 per cent while Fianna Fáil and the Greens have both had a one point increase to 21 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.

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Sinn Féin is down one point to 35 per cent but still commands more support than the individual Coalition parties.

Poll October 2022

Asked to respond to this situation, Minister for Public Expenditure Mr McGrath said: “We’re about at the halfway point really at this Oireachtas term. There aren’t many matches that are won by half time.

“So there’s a long way to go and know we’re working hard on the issues that really matter to people.”

He hit out at Sinn Féin saying it had repeatedly made demands for emergency or mini-budgets and proposed price caps on energy.

“We don’t have to look too far to see where those type of policies can lead to real difficulties for countries and for ordinary people”, a reference to the economic turmoil sparked by a mini-budget in Britain.

“It’s a great privilege to be in government and I have no doubt that come the end of our term, we will have a record that we can stand over,” he said.

“We brought a country through Covid. We will bring the country through the ramifications of this terrible war.

“And we will make progress on housing, on health care reform, on tackling climate change and addressing the cost-of-living pressures that people are facing.”

Poll October 2022

The poll shows Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald tied as the most popular leaders in the country with their approval rating both standing at 45 per cent.

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar is not far behind with his personal rating up eight points to 44 per cent.

On the opinion poll results, Mr Varadkar said: “Polls go up and down. I’ve led my party at 17 per cent and 37 per cent and everything in between.

“I think my personal rating has gone from 20 per cent to 70-something- per cent and everything in between.

“I don’t get fazed by them anymore when they go up and down.”

Speaking at a press event on Thursday morning, he said when an election is called “the whole thing resets again” adding: “I wouldn’t be too concerned about opinion polls.”

Mr Varadkar did say on the interpretation of polls that it takes support of 50 per cent to form a Government.

“The reason why Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens are able to come together to form a government is that the parties together got 51 per cent of the vote.

“I think we’ve combined vote of the three parties in this particular poll is 47 [per cent] – not so far off 50 [per cent].”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times