Skies darkening over Bertie…

If the sun shines on Bertie Ahern in Westminster this morning it’s decidedly drizzly in Dublin. The extent of his electoral misery is hard to gauge since any potential losses are likely to come well down the card. But the effect of a lacklustre campaign in which the opposition has made most of the running, is compounded by a string of polling results that give Fianna Fail little comfort. The latest has Labour and Fine Gael pull ahead by one point.The Irish Independent leads today with an eye-catching FF in nosedive headline:

Fianna Fail has dropped three points, to 35pc, since April, while support for Fine Gael has jumped by the same amount to 26pc during this three-week period. Labour is up one to 13pc; the PDs are down one to 3pc while the Greens are down 1pc (to 5pc) and Sinn Fein are up 2pc to 10pc. Independents and others remain on 8pc.

The poll also shows a Fine Gael-Labour coalition is becoming increasingly popular as a preferred government after the election. Support for Fine Gael-Labour has increased from 35pc to 39pc, while Fianna Fail/PD has dropped from 42pc to 38pc.

The poll also reveals, for the first time, that the payments controversy is damaging trust in the Taoiseach. Some 47pc of those surveyed said they had less trust in Mr Ahern as a result of the revelations about the money he received in the early 1990s. Just 7pc said they trusted him more and 41pc said it did not change their view.

By this poll’s standards (which tend to favour FF) that is a drop from 42pc last October. It goes on to note:

The last time Fianna Fail hit 35pc was in March 2004, just weeks before the party took a hammering in the local and European elections. If Fianna Fail drops to 35pc on polling day, the party faces losses of 20 seats or even more and simply wouldn’t have the numbers to get back into government.

With just nine days to go to polling day, Mr Ahern is fast running out of time to stage a recovery.


  • miss fitz

    I am aware that I have bias in this regard, and I have no problem in declaring I knew Bertie quite well many, many years ago and retained a soft spot for him.

    Having said that, I think that it is a real shame and scandal that it will take history and time to appreciate the genuine achievement that has happened in his stewardship.

    We casually accept the better relationship that now exists between Ireland and Britain. However, we are often reminded, particularly by some American contributors that the perception of the relationship and indeed the historical nature of that relationship is long, bitter and full of emnity.

    In times past, it would have been unthinkable in the extreme to have had the leader of the Irish government speak to the Houses of Parliament. Why? Oh, lots of reasons, some of them being the absence of an irish government leader for many centuries.

    Bertie Ahern, no matter what personal dilemma he has faced will have to go down as the most coherent, focused and dynamic leader of them all. If he seems an unlikely candidate, that may be true. But Bertie is truly a man of the people, a man without notions of grandeur, and most of all, a fellow that likes to get things done.

    A vox pop done in Galway last week for Radio 4 revealed that not only had all of the foreign visitors polled heard of the Taoiseach, something like 38 oout of 72 had met him either on the street or in a pub, somewhere in Ireland.

    Although I was on the other end of the kindof marital breakdown he experienced, I know how hard it was for my ex-husband to get started from scratch again. I think its a measure of his essential honesty that he took only what he needed to get on his feet and did not buy a mansion in Kinsealy or anywhere else for that matter.

    Those of you who would knock Bertie should pause for just one second and consider his achievement, his importance and consider whether this underlying bickering demsonstrates nothing more than the ‘nation of begrudgers’ Ireland is so often accused of being.

    Apologies Mick, but had to get that off my chest.