Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams 'most popular leader in Republic of Ireland' despite difficult year

Support for Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams has risen nine points in the past two months
Support for Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams has risen nine points in the past two months
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (centre right) takes part during the Sinn Fein commemoration to mark the 98th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been named as the most popular political leader in the Republic.

According to an opinion poll carried out by a Sunday newspaper, support for the republican party president has risen nine points in the past two months in the south.

The survey also found that the party now commands almost identical levels of support to Ireland's traditional largest parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

Sinn Fein's popularity is up two points to 20% and it is now the most popular party in Dublin, ahead of the local and European elections on May 23.

The Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll shows Fianna Fail is up one point to 20%, Fine Gael is down nine to 21%, the Labour party is unchanged at 9%, while independents picked up five points to 26% and the Green Party is up to at 4%.

Although Sinn Fein didn't capitalise on Fine Gael's losses nationally, it is now polling 23% in Dublin, beating its nearest rival Fianna Fail by six points.

That puts the party's EU candidate for Dublin Lynn Boylan in a strong position to take one of the three seats in the election.

Having secured 48%, Gerry Adams sees his popularity soar to near his all-time high of 50% during last September/October 2011. He is three points ahead of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, while Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach, is at 40% and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is at 37%.

The poll was conducted from April 6-16, the time of the state visit to Britain of Irish president Michael D Higgins. Gerry Adams' (left) increasingly popularity may come as a surprise to some of his critics after a difficult year for the controversial republican politician.

Indeed, commentators said there were major questions hanging over his political leadership following the conviction of his brother Liam for child sexual abuse. By not informing Sinn Fein of the sexual abuse allegations against his brother when he was first told them in 1987, Mr Adams broke his own party's rules.

There were also suggestions that his reputation as party leader could have been compromised after a television documentary, The Disappeared, linked him to the murder of Jean McConville.

The Louth TD has always strongly denied any responsibility for her death.

First Minister Peter Robinson recently blamed Mr Adams for the problems he has working with Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. He told the Belfast Telegraph he worked well with Martin McGuinness on issues where Mr Adams' input was not required.

BACKGROUND

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams is a former MLA and MP for West Belfast and currently a member of the Dail for Co Louth. Mr Adams was a key actor in the peace process, which saw an IRA ceasefire in 1994, leading to talks chaired by Senator George Mitchell that concluded with the Belfast Agreement, signed on Good Friday 1998. This agreement paved the way for the end of the IRA's armed campaign in 2005 and a power-sharing government. Mr Adams has had a tumultuous year – facing questions over the death of Jean McConville as well as his handling of his brother's sex abuse crimes.

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