Aer Lingus Belfast Move Hits Government Standing

Support for Fianna Fáil has suffered a big drop since the general election - in part due to the fall-out from the Aer Lingus departure from Shannon in favour of a Belfast ‘hub’ for operations.

A pay rise that pushed the Irish premier’s salary in excess of that of both the US president and the UK PM was also thought to be a factor, as well as the continuing, long-running Mahon tribunal into alleged corruption.

The Irish Times /TNS mrbi poll, just published, was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies.

It reveals that the Government has suffered a serious erosion in its standing since Fianna Fáil returned to power in the general election.

The satisfaction rating of the Government has dropped 15 points to 37% while the Taoiseach has suffered an identical drop in his rating to 43%. His dissatisfaction rating at 50% has risen by 16 points.

The public’s satisfaction with the Taoiseach and the Government is also down significantly.

However, on the positive side, the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, has a higher satisfaction rating than the Taoiseach and is more popular than any of the party leaders.

Fine Gael and Labour have also made significant gains since the election and their joint support is now well ahead of the combined Government parties.

Fine Gael has narrowed the gap with Fianna Fáil to just two percentage points, the closest the two parties have been for more than 20 years.

The adjusted figures for party support compared with the election outcome are: Fianna Fáil, 33% (down nine points); Fine Gael, 31% (up four points); Labour, 15% (up five points); Sinn Féin, seven per cent (no change); Green Party, five per cent (no change); PDs, two per cent (down one point); and Independents/others, seven per cent (no change).

The silver lining for the Government is that the Green Party has held on to the support it achieved in the election and its new leader and Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, has a solid satisfaction rating.

The Iirsh Times poll was taken after a succession of difficulties for the Government ranging from the Taoiseach's evidence at the Mahon tribunal to problems in the health service, the row over Shannon airport, the pay rise for Ministers and the provisional licence debacle.


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