Labour reeling as Shinners in front to lead opposition
SINN Fein now has the second largest support in the country after Fine Gael. A shock opinion poll has left Labour reeling as took a battering for recent Government controversies.
The two Coalition parties mustered a total of only 46pc support, with Eamon Gilmore's party nose-diving to just 13pc. The honeymoon is well and truly over.
Sinn Fein now enjoys the second-biggest support in Ireland with 21 pc, leaving both Fianna Fail (14pc) and Labour far behind.
The opinion poll today revealed that Sinn Fein is now the biggest party in terms of support among working class voters. Overall,its anti-austerity stance has seen support jump six points to 21pc.
The rise of Sinn Fein comes in the wake of Finance Minister Michael Noonan's remarks that the party was exploiting the economic crisis for its own gain.
"You hope to build your party on the suffering of the Irish people. Out of disaster, you will grow," said the minister.
Labour chiefs were shaken by the plunge in support from 19pc six months ago to just 13pc as it appeared the party was bearing the brunt of voter dissatisfaction. Just 22pc of Labour supporters indicated they were happy with the Government's performance. Fine Gael slipped 3 points to 33pc. Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley, the party's director of elections for the coming referendum, said the rise in Sinn Fein support showed the electorate was "flirting" with that party's "utopian" views.
Deputy Dooley said Fianna Fail support did not rise because it has refused to indulge "in the old politics of populism" of being "against everything".
Sinn Fein TD Aengus O'Snodaigh said Labour had turned its back on its election manifesto. The people who were suffering from the policies being implemented were turning to Sinn Fein, he said.
The plunge in Labour support brings to mind its leader Eamon Gilmore's remarks at the outset of the new Government's tenure that its duty to take tough measures to restore the nation's tattered finances could result in members one day having to pass forests of pickets to enter future party conferences.
The only consolation in the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll for Labour was that its support seems to be holding up in Dublin. In the polling of satisfaction levels with the leaders of the parties, Labour lost out again to Sinn Fein with Gerry Adams (down 3 points to 29pc) installed in the number two position as Gilmore's support fell 14 points to 27 pc. Taoiseach Enda Kenny's support fell 10 points to 42pc. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin remained in last place having fallen 5 points to 24 pc.
The Government and its leaders are seen to be suffering a big backlash following the controversies over the household charge and water charges.
Sinn Fein's level of support in the poll is twice its result in the 2011 General Election.
Independents are up three points since October to 17pc. The poll also measures support for the Green Party -- up one point to 2pc.
Fianna Fail lost a further point to bring them to 14pc.
Meanwhile, the TD who shocked the Dail by claiming most unwanted pregnancies stem from 'fornication' denied she is old-fashioned adding: "We have too many one night stands."
Fine Gael deputy Michelle Mulherin stunned many of her Dail colleagues when she claimed fornication, or sex outside of marriage, was the main reason 4,500 Irish women have abortions every year. The comments were dubbed "disgusting" by Socialist TD Clare Daly.