Poll position | 

Sinn Féin surges to 33pc support but current coalition still favoured, poll finds

Government parties are failing to capitalise in terms of party support, but the poll also finds the public prefers the current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Greens coalition to a Sinn Féin-led alternative left-wing government.
Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at Leinster House in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at Leinster House in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Jody Corcoran

Almost half of people believe the Covid pandemic will not be effectively over until 2023, according to the first Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks nationwide opinion poll.

However, Covid is receding somewhat as an issue and is now fourth behind housing, healthcare and, increasingly, the cost of living as a priority for people.

The poll also finds slightly increased support for the Government’s handling of the pandemic, a comfortable majority in agreement with the decision to re-open schools and continued strong support for Nphet’s proposed restrictions.

Government parties are failing to capitalise in terms of party support, but the poll also finds the public prefers the current Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Greens coalition to a Sinn Féin-led alternative left-wing government.

The State of the parties, excluding don’t knows, is: Sinn Féin 33pc (+2); Fine Gael 23pc (-2); Fianna Fáil 19pc (+2); Social Democrats 4pc (+1); Labour 4pc (No Change); Green Party 3pc (-1); Solidarity PBP 3pc (-1); Aontú 2pc (-1); and Independents and Others 9pc (NC).

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald is marginally the more popular party leader with a score of 4.1 out of 10, followed by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (3.9) and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (3.8). The chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, scores 5.5 out of 10.

Coalition leaders Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan. Picture by Julien Behal

Coalition leaders Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan. Picture by Julien Behal

However, the poll finds the current FF/FG/Greens coalition (38pc) to be a preferred government ahead of a Sinn Féin-led government (34pc) including smaller parties, identified as the Greens, Labour, Social Democrats, and others on the left.

In an indication of the difficulty facing Sinn Féin to form a new government, the poll also finds minimal support for a coalition of SF/FF (10pc) and SF/FG (3pc), while 16pc are unsure of its preferred government in a forced choice.

The online poll was conducted nationwide among a representative sample of 1,369 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7pc. The last Ireland Thinks poll was conducted for the Mail on Sunday in December.

This poll finds Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe (40pc) the preferred finance minister ahead of Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty (36pc) and Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath (15pc).

Similarly, Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee (41pc) is the preferred justice minister ahead of Sinn Féin’s Martin Kenny (21pc) and Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan (17pc).

Housing (44pc) remains the single most important issue for the public ahead of healthcare (33pc), cost of living (28pc), Covid (27pc) and climate change (15pc).

And Sinn Féin’s high-profile housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin (44pc) emerges as the preferred housing minister ahead of current Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien (33pc) with a substantial 23pc unsure in a straight choice between the two.

With a record 26,122 new Covid cases reported yesterday, the poll finds a substantial 45pc believe the pandemic will not be effectively over until 2023, significantly ahead of those who believe it is already over (7pc), or will be over in three months (7pc), 6 months (17pc) or 12 months (12pc).

Asked if they were confident in the Government’s ability to handle the pandemic, 45pc (+3) said yes and 45pc (-1) said no while 10pc (-1) did not know. Asked whether Nphet should be abolished, 63pc (-8) said no and 26pc (+3) said yes while 11pc (+5) did not know.

When asked if the Government was right to reopen schools last week, 60pc said yes and 34pc said no, and 6pc did not know.

But half (51pc) did not believe the reopening was managed well, while over a third (36pc) said it was and 12pc did not know.

Asked if all restrictions should be abolished as of now, three quarters (73pc) said no and a quarter (23pc) said yes.


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