Sinn Féin is watching the polls and beginning to panic, says Stephen Donnelly

Minister for Health suggests party wants early election as it sees Government making progress in key areas

Sinn Féin is watching the polls and are beginning to panic, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly called for a general election following the resignation of the previous taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

An opinion poll commissioned by broadcaster Newstalk and published on Thursday found that a majority of people believed that a general election should be called now.

However, speaking on Thursday, Mr Donnelly argued that Sinn Féin wanted to go to the country now as it could see that the Government was making progress in key areas such as housing and health.


He also appeared to suggest that Sinn Féin was concerned that the party was falling back in opinion polls.

Mr Donnelly said that five-year parliamentary terms were very clearly set out in legislation.

“The Government is seeing through a five-year terms. That is the right thing to do. There is a lot of progress being made. We know the trolley numbers are falling in healthcare; the waiting lists are falling and new services are being rolled out. ”

“There is the best part of a year to go [to the next general election].”

The Minister said that the focus of the Government was implementing the programme for Government agreed between the three Coalition parties.

“We live in a parliamentary democracy and certainly in healthcare I have every intention of working with our healthcare workers all over Ireland to keep the waiting lists going down and the trolley numbers going down and to keep adding more beds and new staff. ”

Asked about comments by Sinn Féin that the Newstalk poll showed that the people wanted an early election Mr Donnelly said: “Sinn Féin get elected to Westminister and they take the money but not the seats. That is their choice. They got elected to Stormont but collapsed the assembly in the face of Brexit. Now they do not seem to respect the clear five-year parliamentary terms we have in the Republic.

“I think Sinn Féin are watching the polls. I think Sinn Féin are beginning to panic and are calling for a general election.

“Sinn Féin can see more houses being built, they can see hospitals being built, they can see more beds being added and [that] waiting lists and trolley numbers falling.”

The Newstalk poll, carried out by carried out by Amárach Research following the appointment of Simon Harris as Taoiseach earlier this week, showed younger people more enthusiastic about an early election.

It found that 73 per cent of those under 35 years who were polled wanted an immediate general election compared with 40 per cent of those over the age of 55.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent