Sunday Business Post

SF holds its support but public is uneasy

06 March 2005
By Pat Leahy

Support for Sinn Féin is holding firm, despite the Northern Bank robbery and the killing of Robert McCartney. However, attitudes among non-Sinn Féin voters are hardening against the party.

This is according to the findings of today's Red C/Sunday Business Post opinion poll. Fianna Fail has staged a dramatic recovery since last June's local and European elections. If a general election were held now, according to the results of the poll, it would be politically impossible to form a government without Fianna Fail. The national survey comes before two by-elections in Meath and Kildare North on Friday.

Fine Gael's support has declined since June; the party has returned to the level of support it had at the time of the 2002 general election, although voters say a Fine Gael-Labour-Green Party coalition is their preferred choice for government, but there's not enough support to bring them to power.

Sinn Féin's support, at 9 per cent, is 1 point up on its local election result last year and 2 points up on the general election result of 2002. However, there is evidence to show that a majority of the party's own supporters say they are concerned about reports of IRA activity, including money laundering in the Republic.

A Sinn Féin-Fianna Fail government is viewed as unacceptable by almost 70 per cent of all voters.

The poll is good news for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Since last year's catastrophic mid-term local and European elections, when Fianna Fail received less than 32 per cent of the vote, the party's support has recovered and stands today at 37 per cent.

While this is still behind the 41.5 per cent the party won at the 2002 general election, it is a vital reversal of the downward trend and puts Ahern in the driving seat to win a third term.

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