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Degree of support among Protestants will enhance McGuinness standing

By Linda Beers

Published 30/11/2009

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont. May 8, 2007.
Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont. May 8, 2007.
Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein, pictured leaving court in Belfast after charges against him involving IRA membership were dropped 1976.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams pictured canvassing with Martin McGuinness, Alex Maskey and Danny Morrison shortly after he was shot and injured in a UDA gun attack in Belfast city centre.
03-12-2007: Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left) and First Minister Ian Paisley with the hammer at the podium during a visit to the New York Stock Exchange at Wall Street with Ian Paisley Junior (second right) and Duncan Niederauer, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange
Pacemaker Press 12/10/09 Secretary Of State of the US Hilary Clinton is greeted by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as she arrives at Stormont Castle during her visit Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Martin McGuinness in Derry's Bogside at a press conference. 1971
President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at the funeral of Patrick Kelly . 1987
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinnes
In the past: Martin McGuinness pictured brandishing a gun
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

Belfast Telegraph

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