Adams' sinks, Sinn Fein floats…

WHILE Gerry Adams’ popularity has sunk to an ‘all time low’, support for Sinn Fein remains practically unchanged, according to an Irish Independent poll.

UTV reported:

The poll asked a cross-section of the Irish public a number of questions, among them:

“Do you believe or not that Sinn Féin was reponsible for the breakdown of the northern peace process in December 2004 by refusing to allow photographs of weapons being decommussionsed?” to which 46% replied that they thought so, 39% replied they did not and 15% said they did not know or had no opinion.

When asked if it was “likely that Sinn Féin would publically insist that the IRA decommission all its weapons and break totally with criminality” 49% of those asked said it was unlikely, with 33% saying it is likely and 18% not knowing.

On the most contentious questions arising from the “political turbulance” of the past number of weeks, 62% said they agreed with “the Irish government`s belief that Sinn Féin and the IRA are one and the same organisation” and 46% said they areed with Justice Minister Michael McDowell`s statement that three senior members of Sinn Féin are also members of the IRA army council.

The same number also said the minister should sanction the men`s arrests if he thought they were linked to the outlaw oraganisation.

62% of voters also said they believed that, until recently, the Irish government had been “too soft” on IRA criminality.

In an overwhelmingly expressed opinion, 74% of people said they thought the Irish government should name businesses suspected to be backed by IRA money.

While support for Sinn Féin has not dropped appreciably, falling only one percentage point to 9%, Gerry Adams personal approval rating now ranks him as the least popular leader of any party sitting in the Dáil, having plummeted from 52% in October of 2002 to just 31% for February of this year.

  • peteb

    Wel.. that’s SF support practically unchanged.. OR.. they’ve dropped 10% of their core vote.. depends how you look at it, I guess.

    But as for getting second preference votes from other parties…

  • Richard Delevan

    SF’s drop is well inside the margin of error, a basic statistical concept the Irish media seems completely unwilling to try and learn. For all this poll says, SF’s support could have gone up. Adams’ drop is significant.
    What will be interesting is the 11 Mar by-election. Joe Reilly got just over 6,000 votes in 2002, and all told got 9.4% in Meath. What’s a win and what’s a loss for SF in Meath next month? Anyone?

  • George

    Have to agree with Richard, the drop in the SF vote is of no statistical significance, the drop in Gerry’s support is.

    Should Gerry call it a day?

    Is there someone else in SF who can deliver on the “peace process”?

    I’d say Reilly’s first preference votes will hold up in Meath but he won’t get any transfers.

    A win for SF in Meath would be >10%
    A loss would be

    Anything in between is business as usual.

  • peteb

    I fully understand and accept the margin of error ‘concept’, Richard 🙂

    But the margin of error with such a low percentage to begin with means there’s probably no real information on that level of support in the first place.. that hasn’t, however, stopped the trumpeting of any slight increase in the reported figure – as the media coverage in the past can attest to.. the coverage should reflect that as you point out – any info anywhere on the actual margin of error on these figures, BTW?

    As I suggested, though, that dramtic drop in Adams’ ‘satisfaction as party leader’ – and that’s not the same as being ‘popular’ – is very likely to hit any potential transfers.

  • George

    A loss would be

  • Jacko

    It’s strange, in that up to now a vote for Sinn Fein candidates in the Republic was taken, largely, to be a vote for Adams.
    No matter who was standing it was always Gerry’s mug shot on the posters.
    You would have imagined then, that any decline in personal support for Adams would immediately manifest itself in a drop in support for the party. But, apparently not so.

    It will be worth watching to see if, for some reason that I can’t quite think of, this is simply a case of delayed reaction and the shinners overall popularity will similarly be affected.

  • George

    For some reason my SF loss figure doesn’t want to come up so I’ll have to spell it out: less than six per cent.

    Interesting Jacko,
    that’s true, Adams has got a lot of credit for the SF vote although I have to say I think it is more down to SF going into areas and getting people to vote who had never voted before because they saw no point or getting people to vote who had given up voting because they were disillusioned.

  • Richard Delevan

    Peteb – I’m sorry, I honestly didn’t mean you. It’s just that we all (myself included) forget, because RTE, UTV, Indo, Irish Times, etc. almost never include a prominent health warning, and regularly talk about drops or gains at that level. Apols again.

  • Richard Delevan

    Interestingly enough, the story on the Indo poll in the online version never uses the words “margin of error” even once. I’m going to have to buy the dead tree version to see if it’s in there, but here’s their note on the poll methodology:
    “The poll was conducted among a sample of 1,098 voters at 100 sampling points throughout all the constituencies on Tuesday and Wednesday.” At that level, I’d have to guess a margin of + or -3% (not a statsboy, but could read the crosstabs if they’d publish the whole poll).
    Agree completely on transfers, that’s where it seems the gains were. SF got limited transfers in Meath in 2002. But in the 2004 locals in Navan (an example and their probable best area), they got 5% of FF transfers and around 21% of Labour transfers. Good stuff on 2004 vote & transfers here.

  • peteb

    No apology necessary, Richard.. I should have made that point myself.

    BUt I still haven’t seen an actual margin of error figure for that survey either..

    I’d have to agree with your estimate of a +/-3%.. (it’s probably in the range of 2-3%) that would fit with previous examples.

  • peteb

    Just to add that, with the low percentage level to begin, that makes the info on support for SF very unreliable.

  • Richard Delevan

    Gerry Adams describes poll results as “deep disappointment” on RTE, blamed it on “vilification” – he was speaking after saying he met with Robert McCartney’s family and that it was a “patriotic duty” to help bring McCartney’s killers to justice.

  • spartacus

    The striking thing about the poll results is that after nearly a month-long, non-stop barrage of unsupported allegations against SF in regards to the Northern job–David McKittirck asserting yesterday, for example, that ‘no one outside their ranks believed that they weren’t responsible’–nearly half the southern population remains unconvinced, and will wait on the evidence. They may have a very long wait, though its absence doesn’t seem to have gotten in the way of Richard, Jacko, Davros, other pundits who have–surprise, surprise–found all their assumptions confirmed in the events, and who have relaxed their usual skepticism to pronounce each new assertion by the press as fact.

    The rush to judgment is clearly politically motivated–something which is obvious in following the posts here on Slugger–and the media has played a particularly despicable role in all of this. Not a single investigative reporter, to my knowledge–and this includes McCann, others one might expect better of–has subjected the Orde/Ahern allegations to any sort of close scrutiny or (if they are convinced by them) sought to explain the fissures in proivisional ranks that led to the raid. As for the Henry MacDonalds, etc., its a long time since he called himself a Stick, I would presume, and if he’s still able to float in those circles then its only because the Stalinists everywhere have done a flip turn and landed in the Bush camp. They’ve gone from cheering on Russian imperialism to becoming the ‘useful idiots’ of the Bush project. Not much distance to travel really.

  • Occasional Commenter

    George,
    I see you’re trying to use the < symbol. You’ll have to type &lt;

  • Richard Delevan

    spartacus: “They may have a very long wait, though its absence doesn’t seem to have gotten in the way of Richard, Jacko, Davros, other pundits who have–surprise, surprise–found all their assumptions confirmed in the events, and who have relaxed their usual skepticism to pronounce each new assertion by the press as fact.”
    Actually the events of the last few weeks have changed my assumptions materially. In the past, right up through the June 2004 elections, I was willing to largely give SF the benefit of the doubt, and time to fulfill their GFA commitments.
    Time’s up.
    I agree it’s frustrating that the Governments won’t publish all their evidence. In part, it seems this is to extend every last effort to give space for Adams & McGuinness to turn the situation around. On that score, too, time’s running out.
    I believe Ed Moloney has done quite a bit of analysis on the current situation within the provisionals. Am I wrong? Of course, writing about the Army Council or provisionals’ politics is a bit like writing about the Politburo, isn’t it? That doesn’t mean you can afford to suspend judgement on the threat.

  • Ringo

    spartacus

    The rush to judgment is clearly politically motivated–something which is obvious in following the posts here on Slugger–and the media has played a particularly despicable role in all of this.

    That’s one way of looking at it.

    Do you really think that if there was a story to be had out of this that not one of the illustrious list of investigative journalists would have put an opportunity to get their name in light ahead of a political agenda? Not sure if you know any investigative reporters, but I don’t really share your confidence that they’d put politics before their own egos.

    Another is that in all the incidents prior to the Northern Job there was a rush away from judgement. Aside from the odd IMC report nobody got up and pointed out that their might be something odd about the emperors attire. OK the DUP and the UUP did – and everyone paid them little heed because it was ‘politically motivated’. Doesn’t mean they were wrong. Doesn’t mean that everyone else didn’t think the same thing, but it was best left unsaid.

    Now the middle ground – the two governments have decided that the bank jobs was taking the complete piss out of them and everyone else and they are calling a spade a spade.

    It was the complete absence of criticism of other criminal activity for political reasons that make this case remarkable.

  • George

    Thanks for the explanation OC, indeed I was.

    Spartacus,
    having worked in a non-political capacity on the GFA referendum south of the border in 1998 , I would say from my on the ground experience that the overwhelming majority voted “yes for peace”, simple as that.

    An active IRA scares these people and a successful Sinn Fein with an active, fully-armed IRA scares them even more. The media is tapping into this fear for sales it is not creating it.

    Enda Kenny tapped into this first before the Northern Bank Raid when he brought up the release of the McCabe killers.

    The majority of Irish people felt the security of the Irish state was being undermined by the release of Garda killers early and Ahern and McDowell tried to pass this off by saying it would only happen in return for total decommissioning. For total decommissioning, read no more fear. The media was still on board then as there was a chance of the big December deal.

    Roll on a couple of weeks later and you have a collapsed deal again and the Northern Bank job which using Occam’s Raiser (the simplest solution is more than likely the right one) was the work of the IRA.

    The only other people who could have done it is MI5. That’s the choice.

    So people see an active IRA and what’s worse remember only weeks earlier the Irish government was close to undermining Irish security more than any time in the last 3 decades with the proposed release of Garda killers.

    It’s no surprise that people want clarity on the IRA’s intentions and it’s even less of a surprise that the media is trying to sell papers out of this.

    Gerry Adams’ popularity has dropped so fast because people are now as afraid of him and what he stands for as they are of the IRA. Before he was seen as the man to end the fear. Not any more.

  • Jacko

    George
    The McCartney murder and SF reaction to it as well as Mitchell’s strange ideas on what constitutes base criminality are bound to be factors as well.

    I see Gerry turned up at the McCartney’s last night – a month after the murder, (sorry, manslaughter according to Gerry).
    Shows how really concerned he and the party are.

  • Amergin

    Today’s Economist (a paper not known for any republican sympathies) reports “The police at first suggested that some of the money recovered had come from Northern Bank, but all the cash seized is now known to have been used in legitimate transactions, and six out of the seven people [arrested] were released without charge. The only money which has turned up from the robbery so far was £50,000 found in the toilets of a Belfast club frequented by the police.”

    Lessons:-

    1. Irish journalism must learn to be more objective and investigate more thoroughly.
    2. My comments posted earler suggested that this may be the work of the RIRA or MI5 as the (then apparent) recovery of Northern Bank cash indicated a sloppyness unlike the PIRA style. If no money from Northern Bank (except the £50,000) has been recovered, then the work is indeed not sloppy and could be that of the PIRA.
    3. In the end it will be the murder of Robert McCartney that impacts more on the march of Sinn Fein. It must continue to condemn that crime and co-operate to the fullest extent with the investigation.

    When it comes to stealing money no party can stand aloof, though the methods vary. The Irish electorate has seen use and abuse of money and privilege, by Irish politicians and their friends that would make Imelda Marcos blush. At least this time we are really talking about robbery and not offshore diversion, tax evasion, planning permission persuasion, signed blank cheque books, etc.

    Kind regards

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Jacko

    If a vote for Sinn Fein is often based on Adams’ personality, do you think his face will be on every candidate’s election poster this time around?

    Watch that space on the lamppost…

    Ringo

    Good point. It was the Nelsonian blind eye that the Governments took to IRA criminality – embarrassingly admitted by Ahern – that prompted the introduction of the IMC. Since the Governments refused to state the truth, someone had to. Now it seems even the Governments have wised up.

    A little.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Oh look. Loads of new previously-unseen posters are appearing to defend SF, then melt away into the background again. Call me paranoid but I rather suspect the site has become a target for the republican tag-teams trying to bend the debate their way.

    “but all the cash seized is now known to have been used in legitimate transactions”

    I love this idea of swapping one unsubstantiated allegation for another, and how it conveniently avoids mentioning, for example, the chap who turned up at a Garda station and handed in just under £200,000 explaining that he’d been asked to look after the cash; or about how anyone in legitimate business keeps huge piles of cash in a shed in their back garden instead of in the banking system earning interest and in full public view. I’m surprised that the Economist wouldn’t ask such questions.

  • Ringo

    I’m stunned.

    A big long post by George and I find myself agreeing with it from beginning to end.

    Must lie down.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Gerrys popularity will rise again to previos highs within the year.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “he was speaking after saying he met with Robert McCartney’s family and that it was a “patriotic duty” to help bring McCartney’s killers to justice.”

    A sick joke if ever I heard one.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Christopher

    One wonders why the McCartneys are still waiting for justice…

  • George

    Christopher,
    “patriotic duty” is the exact phrase Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern used earlier this week when he called for witnesses to contact the PSNI.

    Maybe this is Gerry’s way of saying he is singing from the same hymn sheet as the Irish government.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    It’d be a lot easier for us all, George, if Gerry would say something like “patriotic people should get up on the witness stand” instead of having us all running round like headless chickens guessing what he really thinks ?

  • Davros

    “It’d be a lot easier for us all, George, if Gerry would say something like “patriotic people should get up on the witness stand” instead of having us all running round like headless chickens guessing what he really thinks ? “

    But Roger – he has said more than once that he’s no longer prepared to interpret the words of the IRA 😉

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    I was hoping someone might explain what reasons a legitimate businessman might have for keeping a few million in his back garden in a shed. I’m not trying to be sarcastic, maybe there are reasons, but I can’t think what they are.

  • spartacus

    Christ:

    Be paranoid if you like, but perhaps the reason people ‘fade away’ so often is because they find it nearly impossible to log on unless they have loads of time on their hands to sit around waiting for type key to let them in to the system.

    George:

    I think there’s probably sense in much of what you have to say, but the bit about ‘the media…tapping into this fear for sales [and] not creating it’ is off the mark, by a lot. The media does not simply pluck its line out of thin air–in general they reflect more or less accurately a section of elite opinion, and that is true not only in Ireland but in every corner of the world. The ‘fear’ of republicanism that you have noted is in large part a product of systematic misrepresentation (and outright censorship) over many, many years, and this latest onslaught draws on a deep well of propaganda, dirty tricks and just plain laziness over many years.

  • Davros

    Steven King has a brutal piece on Gerry in the Belfast Telegraph.

    Analysis: Has the propaganda master lost his touch?