Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Degree of support among Protestants will enhance McGuinness standing

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont. May 8, 2007.
Martin McGuinness
Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, right, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in New York after they rang the opening bell, Wednesday Dec. 5, 2007

While Martin McGuinness’ approval rating is significant, his level of cross-community endorsement, with 11% of Protestants polled having cited him as the minister who has impressed them the most, makes it even more so. Sinn Fein’s Michele Gildernew also polls well, coming second in the approval stakes, and again with support from both communities.



Their standing is in stark contrast to that of their party colleague Caitriona Ruane whose performance has disappointed nearly a third of the poll. Given the difficulties across the education portfolio this criticism is hardly surprising. Disapproval comes from both communities.

Peter Robinson is likely to be unhappy with his personal showing. While his approval rating of 7% is in line with that of Employment Minister and UUP leader Sir Reg Empey, the First Minister will surely have hoped for a higher level of public approval, his coming second to Ms Ruane as the most disappointing minister, in particular, likely to be a surprise to many. The DUP, however, can take solace in the fact that at 9% Arlene Foster is the most impressive unionist minister.

The findings regarding both politicians’ expenses and MLA/MP double-jobbing can only be described as conclusive. For 75% of those polled the expenses scandals of the last two years have damaged their view of politicians, a figure that must surely highlight the need for them to re-establish trust and credibility with the electorate.

Linda Beers is managing director of Inform Communications



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