Sinn Fein move up 6 points in latest Irish Times poll…

Well, two swallows don’t make a summer… but I make a six point rise in the Iposos MRBI poll for Sinn Fein a very nice little earner and well worth a headline:

Fine Gael, 33 per cent (down three points); Labour, 13 per cent (down six points); Fianna Fáil, 14 per cent (down one point); Sinn Féin, 21 per cent (up six points); Green Party, 2 per cent (up one point); and Independents/ Others, 17 per cent (up three points).

That’s a pretty cool reading going into a referendum in which they will likely be some the most prominent voices in the Republic… Taking a simple reading, they appear to gaining at the direct expense of Labour (who are back in their familiar pre-Gilmore Gale slot…) and, I might add, possibly at the indirect expense of Fianna Fail; who in turn lost much of their urban, public sector vote to the warm promises of the Gale…

I’d still be very wary of writing off FF who have stuck like glue to the 15% mark (-1% is within the margin of error) … But this comment on gives some flavour of why party loyalists should be worried:

FF, like FG, survive on the notion that eventually, the electorate will kick one out, and replace them with the other.

That’s what saved the Tories in Britain, but that doesn’t necessarily hold here in Ireland, because proportional representation doesn’t reward side over the other disproportionately as the first past the post system does.

SF are emerging in poll after poll now, as “the second largest party” in the State. The more that happens, the more the idea of them being the alternative gets implanted in peoples minds.

Let me offer another suggestion. The only thing keeping SF at the “low 20’s” right now, is that cohort of people in the middle, who still won’t vote SF because of “the past”, and the fact that Gerry Adams is still the party leader.

He then goes on to suggest that this factor may already being dealt with that that there are rumours that Adams won’t run in Louth next time out. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it. I doubt the party is in any hurry to pick up their next five to six point bounce.

Kathryn Reilly and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn will lead the party’s referendum campaign and get some decent profile under their belt. In Reilly’s case, the aim will be to close that gap in Cavan Monaghan and begin to strangulate the border FF vote by taking the second seat that smart FG vote management robbed her of last time out.

My own hunch is that Adams didn’t jump south just to be a one term TD. Nor did McGuinness run for President for the opportunity of getting out of Stormont a bit more.

Whilst there’s no doubt that building up Sinn Fein is a youngster’s project in the Republic, there’s also no doubt that re-invention and re-positioning especially with regards to that movement’s bloody history is an essential element of that party’s mission. And it won’t be going away any time soon.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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