Sinn Féin’s support continues to remain high in the country, surging to 33% as revealed by a nationwide poll conducted by Independent/Ireland Thinks. Although Sinn Féin continues to experience significant support amongst the remaining Irish parties, with Fine Gael standing at 23%, Fianna Fáil at 19% and the Green Party at 3%, support for a coalition consisting of the three parties scoring below Sinn Féin seems to be a more favourable option for Irish voters.
The same poll revealed that there is slightly increased support for the Government’s handling of the pandemic with a majority agreeing with the Government’s decision to re-open schools and continued strong support for the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) proposed restrictions.
It appears that many people are more content with the coalition’s handling of the pandemic as Covid-19 no longer takes the centre stage of issues that the country is currently facing as it now falls fourth behind housing, healthcare and the increasing cost of living.
The poll, conducted among a representative sample of 1,369 people with a margin error of plus or minus 2.7%, reveals that housing remains the top priority for the public at 44% followed by healthcare at 33%, the cost of living at 28%, Covid-19 at 27%, while climate change received the least amount of priority at 15%.
Regarding the coalition, the poll reveals that 38% of people support the current FF/FG/Greens structure over a Sinn Féin-led Government receiving 34%. Amongst the party leaders, Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald appears to be the more popular leader, scoring a 4.1 out of 10.
Regarding other party leaders; Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin has scored 3.9, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar has scored 3.8. In addition, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has scored 5.5. A Sinn Féin coalition is not proving to be as popular as a Sinn Féin-led Government as the poll reveals dismal support for a coalition between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, standing at 3%, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil standing at 10% with 16% unsure of its preferred Government.
For finance and justice, Fine Gael seem to be the more favourable option with Paschal Donohoe favoured at 40% as Minister for Finance followed by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty at 36% and Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath at 15%. A similar situation can be observed for the Minister for Justice as Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee is favoured at 41%, Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny is favoured at 21% and Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan is favoured at 17%.
However, Sinn Féin is the favourable option for housing as Eoin Ó’Broin stands at 44%, with Fianna Fáil’s current Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien standing at 33% but 23% remain unsure as to which minister of the two is most preferable.
In relation to Covid-19, the poll reveals that a substantial majority of 45% of people believe the pandemic will not be effectively over until 2023 while 7% believe that it’s already over or will be over in three months, with 17% believing that it will be over in six months and 12% in 12 months.
Although a majority expressed the notion of the pandemic not ending until next year, their confidence in the Government’s ability to handle the pandemic has been slightly healed with 45% (+3) saying yes and 45% (-1) saying no and 10% (-1) saying they were unsure.
However, NPHET’s popularity does not appear to be on the decline as 63% (-8) believe NPHET should not be abolished, 26% (+3) said they should be abolished while 11% (+5) were unsure. In relation to the current Covid-19 restrictions, 73% believed that they should not be abolished now while 23% said they should.
The Government’s decision to reopen schools last week was also subject to questioning with an overwhelming majority of respondents (60%) agreeing with the reopening, 34% disagreed with the reopening while 6% were unsure. However, an overwhelming majority supporting the Government’s decision does not paint the full picture as 51% did not believe that the reopening was handled well with 36% saying that it was and 12% unsure.
IMAGE – “Mary Lou McDonald TD” (CC BY 2.0) by Sinn Féin