Fianna Fail growth in the polls continues…

Interesting poll figures tonight from the Irish Times [ah we love da horses! – Ed, foolishly attempting an ill-fitting northsider accent]. But let’s dispose of the distractions first.

Labour in a flat spin? Nah, not really. The sharp backdraft to the Gilmore Gale came with last December’s budget when it became clear that the government could not serve two masters at once.

What we see here is not that different to what Labour has registered all year.

If anything, the good news is that their base is holding, especially in Dublin where it continues to hold a significant position. It’s in the rest of the country they’re getting caned.

Government approval is low, 21%. But then it has been almost from the start. It’s also half way between the fortunes of the government parties. Fine Gael are on 31%, and Labour smack bang in the middle of their customary corridor of between 10% and 14%.

Fine Gael have not really moved anywhere since just after the election. In Dublin or anywhere else. The people who voted them in (private sector folk for the most part), may not be happy, but there’s less of a gap between what they promised and what’s being delivered.

There have been one or two exceptions (Big Phil and Dr Reilly), but the Taoiseach still impresses, and more than that, in my view, the Minister of Finance Michael Noonan has not made any major slips (yet).

The only movement we can be sure of is a definite rise in pro Fianna Fail sentiment. Not so much the party’s four per cent rise this time but a trend of seven per cent over two polls.

Perhaps most significantly they seem to be attracting increased support from Ds, Es and even C2s in Dublin. Something some FFers (and SFers) thought only a few months ago was quite beyond them.

In part, it’s a reward for playing some good politics along the way. Micheal Martin laid out an intelligent position well in advance of May’s referendum, and eschewed the siren call from Dev Og to hammer the government on a deal they had no choice but to accept.

And it is hard to doubt at this stage that Martin had a good Referendum. The party has worked hard to live down the terylyne-suited chancerist image of days gone by. There are few old stagers who hold the parties fort on TV, the emphasis is on youth, and policy.

Despite its four per cent drop, 20% is still more than twice Sinn Fein’s score in the general election. Yet it won’t have escaped their notice that their leader’s rating has dropped a full eight percentage points.

Mr Adams was made to look less than ordinary in the first scrap of the new political season. But Fianna Fail’s success in attracting back Ds and Es in Dublin may cause greater concern to party strategists.

It’s too early to plot this as a reliable long term trend. But regardless of what the polls say, Fianna Fail is has been since the election and substantially remains the second largest party in the state.

  • Better Together

    Martin is playing a clever long game. The curious thing is that any uptick in the economy is not only good for FG/Lab, it is also good for FF.

    The problem is that the large ‘soft’ SF vote is too soft, as memories fade, the economy improves and Martin keeps playing canny politics, then Gerry’s weaknesses represent the main factor in play.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can’t disagree with much of that BT. It’s hard to extrapolate too much from this poll abut SF’s fortunes.

    The four per cent drop is from a figure of 24% which will have been pumped a little at the time of the referendum, so some fallback there has to have been expected.

    My own feeling is that SF’s actually weakness is in its inability to understand never mind cater for the Irish middle class.

    In some regards, they’re not far off the US norm in this respect, in the sense that aspiration is a strong driver not just for that class but the one below it.

  • GEF

    One wonders why there is still silence from Republican & Nationalist constituents of Belfast over Gerry doing a runner (still wrapped in mystery) from WB to Dundalk? Has the SDLP mentioned it to the media, or is Conall McDevitt MLA (The mouth from the South) keeping it up his sleeve until the coming 2014/15 elections?

    “However Martin need only have pointed out that Adams abandoned the people of West Belfast leaving that area the most underdeprived not only in the North but in the whole of the so called ‘UK’.”

  • SDLP supporter

    ‘Underdeprived’, ‘underdeprived’?? Whoever came up with that nonsense word has as ropey a grasp of the English language as some people think Gerry Adams has of the Irish language. It’s either ‘under-privileged’ or ‘deprived’, not a compound of both.

  • BarneyT

    I never really understood the animosity between SF and FF. Martin took the high moral ground in the last elections with regard to SF and their associates’ role in the “troubles” and I never understood why SF did not respond in a stronger fashion and remind FF of their origin, acts and deeds of the past. Ok they are separated by time and in a different context, although I can imagine De Valera having to face a similar inquisition regarding his activities and leanings. I don’t intend to draw parallels with De Valera and Garry Adams.

    In this regard, I don’t really see why SF and Fianna Fail don’t form a pact. SF oddly are regarded as somewhat Marxist in the Republic but very much to the right of the then Workers Party in the North. FF and SF are competing in the same territory I suspect (with subtle differences in ideology) and perhaps this is reason for the antagonism. Brothers do fight.
    Coalition governments form to secure power, first and foremost. Gilmore, despite his “sticky” past should be at odds with this Fine Gael partner…but then again, he comes from a political past that has marched a very long road for nothing more than political office.
    The next election will produce Fine Gael as the largest party and Fianna Fail will be a few points ahead of Sinn Fein in second as they have had their beating. If they can define and swallow their differences, both parties have a chance of governing together…in fact I will leave that as a question…?

  • Mick Fealty

    Barney, they tried. It may be a useful stick with which to beat them, but arguments over the past don’t shift votes in the south. It’s little more than a Yellow Ford for SF.

    Why is there animosity? Because they are different political parties, and southern politics is an open and competitive market.

  • SDLP supporter

    You need to study your twentieth century Irish history more closely.Many of the Fianna Fail first generation had a bloody, murderous past, like the current Sinn Fein leadership, and Lemass famously described FF as “a slightly constitutional party”. However, Adams is trying to work a move that not even De Valera with all his cunning could pull off, that is morphing SF into a ‘constitutional’ ‘democratic’ party while still keeping an unbroken and seamless link to the IRA connection and trot out all that commemoration guff as it suits them and when people begin to forget all the vile atrocities they committed..

    Having been stuffed in the Civil War, and going nowhere politically, De Valera quit Sinn Fein, “leaving my comrades behind in the trenches” was the phrase he used (I think-haven’t the time to check) and formed FF in 1926. The Kevin O’Higgins assassination in 1927 called FF’s bluster over the oath and abstentionism and, hey presto, with one bound FF were free of the theocratic crap over the meaning of The Republic and all that bollix.

    Living between North and the West, I am slightly surprised that FF appears to have resiled so quickly. I really thought they were dead and buried. Brings to mind Conor Cruise O’Brien’s remark that he would only believe Charlie Haughey was dead when he saw with his own eyes Charlie buried at a cross-roads at the dead of night with a stake through his heart.

    One thing is certain: FF have long memories and the FF guys I know in Galway West hate the Shinners and saw them at their tricks, like Martin McGuinness over the Gallagher Presidential election bid.

    The FFers there used to look pityingly at the ineptitude of the SDLP vis-a-vis SF but I was able to tell them ‘welcome to the club, that’s what they’re like’.

    As Mick says, politics in the South is about real power. It’s not going to be pretty but if there is a square-off between a revived FF and the Shinners my money is on the former.

  • GEF

    Surely the SDLP are more likely too form a pact with FF than SF ever will. See article in today’s DJ.

    “SDLP-Fianna Fail merger possible: Durkan
    Published on Tuesday 18 September 2007 10:52

    A merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fáil cannot be ruled out, Foyle MP Mark Durkan says.”

  • BarneyT

    Well it’s through discussions like this that you have your knowledge and perhaps opinions shaped.

    I’m not sure about SF maintaining their old connections (perhaps as actively as you suggest) and they will continue to commemorate events that they deem important, and these events are pan republican largely.

    To me SFs challenge is to deliver a united Ireland. By governing in a British jurisdiction today (which NI is like it or not) they are asking their supporters and those that watch them closely to bare with them, as their strategy will yield fruit that should nourish most nationalist and republican ambitions….and that’s the carrot they dangle, event to the republican dissenters.

    Its similar in many ways (I see it) to the move Collins made in accepting the treaty…and this was a similar wait and see strategy…and the thinking was that it was a step towards a united Ireland. There are parallels with SF’s political involvement in the North.

    When Official SF elected to take up political office (if elected) in the early 70s, it gave birth to the provisionals. Of course this was not the first republican split. The provisions later recognised the Dail and in essence recognised the Republic and to some degree accepted partition in some minds. This gave birth to republican SF. Governing in Northern Ireland must have generated a fit in the republican SF ranks. The challenge for SF is to keep the republican dissenters on the hook. If we get no movement and SF are seen to accept the status quo and therefore British rule, we could see a reenergised republican SF which I do not accept as being positive. What if power sharing breaks down and we are forced into coalition and opposition politics?
    If SF does continue to maintain links with their traditionally active side, it surely means that they are keeping them involved in the political process. They are on a perilous journey and have to keep the bellies fed. Whatever you think of SF, they have to be congratulated for going into government and for taking the risks they have, we have always been sensitive on this island. Equally I applaud the DUP for working with them.

  • BarneyT

    Also SF in northern goverment is a nice bit of southern electioneering….however Gerry is preceived as weak on economics and a northern accent still unnerves. Whilst I like to see SF as a cat amongst the pigeons in the south, it will no dout be FG, FF with Labour continuing to serve as king makers

  • John Ó Néill

    Does this not bring the IPSOS/MORI polls into line with the others, though, as their last was an outlier for SF in particular at 24%.

    I don’t think Labour will regard this as particularly healthy as, even from the +/-3% statistical range, they are behind the pack. This is before the lead-in to the budget in December and just before the slow dawning that there was actually was no deal agreed over the promissory notes and legacy bank debt. Given the kite-flying that has already begun and the internal damage it managed to sustain over James Reilly already, I doubt Labour really want too many polls in the near future.

    The real concern of all the parties in the south is about the next local elections as they have to reconfigure against the proposed new outlines that follow from the local authority reform (RPA watchers from the north take note). Short of a dramatic bust-up over the budgetary process, there won’t be any other type of election any time soon.

  • Mick Fealty

    2014 is crucial. Esp for the two main opposition parties. Councillors are boots on the ground and fresh talent. And FF have been on the slide for a number of years.

    2009 was not a good year for them at the time, but it was a lot better than what subsequently happened to them.

    So the locals ought be a benchmark for recovery fo FF, progress for SF. And I suspect neither will be disappointed (09 was way below SF’s 11 Dail performance).

    As for the outlier question, well I’m sort thinking they got a short term boost from the #Euref campaign, boots on the ground etc.

    Normally in a tight game you’d interpret 4% as a indication of something if all other things remain the same.

    But I’m holding off until see the next Red C or B&A polls before judging whether this is meat or fowl…

    That’s the reason why I’ve focused on FF over all the rest since there’s a trend developing in that quarter that’s not evident anywhere else.

  • Greenflag

    Can’t ever see FF coming back .Part 1 of their demise was in the last election . Part 2 and the final coffin nail will be in the next General election when the remaining rump of FF will provide more amenable and pliable coalition partners than a Labour Party divided and in disarray . SF will make some more progress and will take Labour malcontents on board . Independents bar a few of the more prominent ones will not do as well next time .Wherever those votes go I can’t see many going to FF .

    Canis mortuis est and the parrot too !

  • keano10

    Getting a bid fed up with virtually every Opinion Poll on both sides of the border being labelled as unreliable. Surely the margin of error on at least some of the Polls must be small enough to give broad acceptance to their findings?

  • Alias

    The rise in support for FF isn’t a pro-FF sentiment: it’s an anti-Shinner vibe. Martin is seen as a weak gombeen with no particular skillset to commend him to high office (not that that ever stopped Enda) but his innate gombeenism serves him well when it comes to playing the ‘Support us or you get the Shinners as the opposition’ game. Don’t forget that the Shinners consistently have by far the highest percentage of folks of any party who say they’d strongly dislike seeing them in government.

    Martin’s other game is to pretend that FF are now really FG (brown envelope and nationalist free zone) in all but name but that is just a gombeen being too clever by half.

  • Mick Fealty


    You may be picking up something my Nordie antennae has failed to detect. But I also don’t see your working out?

  • Neil

    The Shinners are on their way up down South Alias, regardless of how much you would love to disagree, the poll numbers (and election results) bear that out. And it wasn’t but a year or two some sluggerites were talking about their demise down there. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey.

    That said Adams is beginning to take on the hue of a liability.

  • Barry the Blender

    The Shinners are on their way up down South Alias,

    What exactly do you mean by that?

  • Mick Fealty


    I think the only thing we can say with any certainty is that the electorate is volatile. And some are more volitile than others.

    There’s a caravan of voters who were certain FFers in 2007, who jumped to Labour in 2011, and by Budget time were moving towards SF. There is some evidence that some of them are now moving back to FF.

    FF are practised, not just at southern politics, but making a cross class appeal.

    Sinn Fein are a tenacious breed. They ain’t going away any time soon. But I think one of their residual weaknesses is a certain contempt amongst the leadership for the middle class.

    I think they get away with that in NI because tribal is a banker for both sides. It will not cut the mustard in the south.

    We’re maybe three and a half years out from the next GE, and I’d say such steady progress for Martin is good news for FF.

    That is going be bad news for FG in the medium term. At the most, it could spell disappointment for SF at the next GE (as I say the locals should be good for them), in so far as they have hoped to push out from the likes of Brian Stanley’s toehold in rural Ireland.

    In parallel with this we’ve seen a much more aggressive stance from FF’s youthful front bench. Interestingly they’re leaving the attacks on SF to people FG’s Paschal Donohoe rather than being seen to take them on themselves (which would be advertised as tetchy defensiveness).

  • BarneyT

    Neil – You may have a point with regard to Gerry becoming a liability. I dont know what Gerry’s exact active involvement was with the IRA (and I’m not getting into that) but there is a perception that he is not coming clean. That leaves him vulnerable for many reasons (aside from his command of fianance and the economy). The same cannot be said for Martin.

    Whilst English is the main language in the Republic and most business in the Dail is conducted in English, the Irish Language is occasionally dusted during the election campaign off as a weapon I feel, and this again exposes Gerry. He like many of us cannot call upon a rearing\education through the Irish medium. This is a hole that SF need to seriously plug (to fend off the inevitable “your not as Irish as us” finger pointing), particularly as an Irish Nationalist party with so many all-Ireland aspirations.

    Maybe I am wrong but if Gerry cannnot turn the TG4 debates into a 4-way discussion, portray an honestly with regard to this past and stengthen his grasp of national and global economics, he may continue to be a liability.

  • BarneyT

    I must use a smell checker!

  • Henry94

    Fianna Fail came out against the property tax and it must have won them some of the gullible vote. You can still fool some of the people some of the time.

    It’s a bit like Fr Brendan Smith coming out in favor of the Children’s Right amendment. It’s not that they are wrong. It’s that they are them.

  • lover not a fighter

    It is my belief that Sinn Fein would do better in the south if
    Gerry Adams stepped down.

    He is now an old man and in political terms an ancient one.

    If Sinn Fein are genuinely serious of becoming a party of government in the south then its time to let Gerry go and write his memoirs.

    If Gerry himself was truly interested in furthering Sinn Fein in the South then he would do the right thing and call it a day.

  • GEF

    ‘ Sinn Fein insists Adams still popular despite poll drop’
    SINN Fein has insisted that Gerry Adams remains popular with the Republic’s electorate despite a significant drop in the latest opinion poll.

    If this is true, Gerry would only be popular in the Dundalk area were he was voted in as TD last election. Surely the drop in the opinion polls would be all of SF in the ROI. Remembering all parties including SF benefited by FF’s fall from glory in the last election. FF suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Irish state, a loss described as “historic” in its proportions,where it saw its electoral support base diminished by 75% and Brian Cowen had to fall on his sword by the huge Irish banking scam in living memory. If the Irish electorate decide to vote for FF in the next election SF can expect at least a 50% drop in their 14 TD & 106 councillors in the 26 counties.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’ll ignore that last as the desperate act of a hack under pressure (;-)). Regarding the property tax, they have done their homework.

    They are acting like most political parties in Ireland do and taking their lead from St Augustine (Lord make me good, but not just yet).

    And they are not arguing anything SF and the Irish non Labour left aren’t. All the opposition, are to one degree or another playing populism with the issue.

  • Alias

    “You may be picking up something my Nordie antennae has failed to detect. But I also don’t see your working out?” – Mick Fealty

    I can’t claim it as an insight on my part since it is common knowledge among the political hacks in the Irish media:

    Today’s Sunday Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll did not ask the standard questions. Rather, we sought to test the substance of what Micheal Martin told the Ard Fheis on Friday night: “The only place where a credible alternative approach to this Government can come is from Fianna Fail,” he said.

    That may sound like a throwaway sound bite for the party faithful, and in many ways it was, but our poll finds that the electorate remains cautious to a more radical alternative, or more particularly, to the Fine Gael wing of the current coalition.

    But yet over a third (36 per cent) would like to see Fianna Fail recover to become a realistic alternative party of government again, that is, in or around the same percentage of the electorate which, not that long ago, so routinely placed a tick alongside a candidate of the party.

    The finding is significant for many reasons, not least that it may go some way towards disproving the theory that it has gone away, you know, to misquote the Sinn President Gerry Adams in another context.

    Less than a quarter (23 per cent) would like to see Sinn Fein in government; a massive 61 per cent would not like to see Sinn Fein in government; almost half (49 per cent) would “strongly” dislike to see them in government.

    Although 40 per cent would not like to see a resurgent Fianna Fail — 28 per cent are “strongly” of that view — the point is made: when it comes to huffing and puffing and giving out, Sinn Fein is fine in opposition; when it comes to choosing a government from the opposition, Fianna Fail is preferred.

    The only quibble I’d have is why a poll was needed to detect a dynamic – and figure Martin’s “cunning plan” – that was obvious anyway.

  • forthman

    An open blog to Gerry Adams TD,

    Please Gerry, on behalf of all your loyal fans on ‘slugger O’Toole, would you please consider stepping down? Mr. Fealty, ‘alias’ and barneyT etc…are very disappointed with your total failure. The fact that during your so-called leadership, the SF party almost tripled its representation in the Dáil. Presently sits at double its GE vote ,in recent polls. And is on the cusp of electoral gains in everyone of the 26 counties!!
    So please Gerry would you reconsider??

    PS. I realise it may hurt deeply lads, but please start to get used to the new political realities on this island. If you can’t, then step aside!

  • Mick Fealty


    I made an argument five years ago that GA should make it clear his position was contestable when he was still an asset.

    I don’t think I’ve made that argument since. I’ve also pointed out above that the party is on twice what it polled Feb 12 months ago, and that is set fair for 2014.

    Gerry has security of tenure and he will do whatever the party leadership asks of him. All I can think of to explain an eight per cent drop in his personal rating while his party’s rating holds steady is thumping he took from Martin.

    Unless you have a better explanation?

  • forthman


    I assume you are talking about the Mariam O’Callaghan so-called debate? GA, far from taking a ‘thumping’, more than stood his ground, not just against Martin, but also the disgraceful hosting of MOC. Lets not forget her deep family ties to FF. Where else in the world would this bias be permitted?
    I do however value your opinion Mick, I was in total agreement with you that GA won the televised debate prior to the 2007 GE. Then of course you totally changed your view, days later. Funny that, when those who pay the piper call the tunes!!

    (PS. My name is paul kielty, but for some reason I can only access ‘slugger’ through my password, which I have subsequentially changed!)

  • Mick Fealty

    Follow the links Paul…

  • IrelandNorth

    A quote attributed to Anglo-Irish British peer Lord Palmerston springs to mind every time I contemplate the fate of Fíanna Fáil (FF): “Power corrupts. And absolute corrupts absolutely.” After an inadvisable three five year terms in government in the 26 counties, the Soldiers of Destiny inevitably degenerated into Soldiers of Fortune – as any other party would of flawed human beings would! But what FF have to understand is that they need to be thinking in terms of the biblical prescription of 15 years of sackcloth and ashes in opposition for presiding over the destruction of the economy.