Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Fine Gael most trusted to fix Irish economy: poll

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny

Fine Gael is winning the Irish general election on the back of being the most trusted party to manage the Republic’s public finances and reduce the deficit, an Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll reveals.

Fianna Fail's credibility on economic issues is destroyed and the party is now the least trusted on fiscal matters, according to the survey.

The poll findings come as the parties make their final push for votes in tomorrow's general election in the Republic.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny yesterday said he would not be asking supporters of his party to

transfer to any other party. Mr Kenny's party is in with an outside chance of becoming a single-party government, but he is more likely to form a coalition with Labour.

But he said he is only advising his party supporters to vote for Fine Gael candidates and his party had always intended “to paddle our own canoe here”.

Fine Gael director of elections Phil Hogan appealed to what he described as decent Fianna Fail supporters to lend his party their votes to fix the public finances.

Ahead of his expected victory and election as Taoiseach, there is still a doubt in the minds of many over Mr Kenny's leadership qualities.

Over half (52%) feel he has not yet overcome the questions surrounding him.

But Mr Kenny's relatively poor perception among voters is not hampering his party's advance in this general election.

The latest opinion poll shows Fine Gael is trusted most:

  • to manage the public finances by 39% of those polled;
  • to reduce the deficit by 42%;
  • to create jobs by 37%;
  • to reform the public sector over the next five years by 44%;
  • to improve the health system by 41%;
  • to negotiate with the public sector unions in the national interest by 38%;

By contrast, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are consistently rated as least trustworthy in their ability to deal with all issues.

Fianna Fail's economic policies have been the central plank of new party leader Micheal Martin's election campaign.

Fianna Fail is facing an electoral wipeout, running the severe risk of coming back with fewer than 20 seats.

Mr Martin is still insisting there will be no “Fianna Fail-free constituencies” after the election. Looking at the policies for how the public finances will be fixed, the electorate feels satisfied with the amount of detail they have received from the party they intend to vote for.

Mr Martin's calls for electoral reform after spending the past 14 years at the cabinet table ring hollow with most voters.

The new Fianna Fail leader has been promoting his ideas for reform of the political system, including bringing in outside experts into the cabinet, as a key plank of his election campaign.

But 57% of people believe he has no credibility to call for political reform, with men, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and Independent supporters especially unimpressed.

And Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams' claim he wasn't a member of the IRA is simply not believed by almost three out of four of the Irish people.

The Sinn Fein leader bizarrely states he was never a member of the IRA, despite being a leader of the republican movement for the best part of three decades.

But the public doesn't buy it and 73% believe he was an IRA member, with this view most prevalent among those over 50, higher social classes, farmers, and Fianna Fail supporters.

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