FIANNA Fáil continues to linger in the doldrums as an opinion poll last week put it on a mere 17%.
Fine Gael was polling twice as well, hitting 34%, with Labour on 24%. Three-quarters of those surveyed favoured a change of Government.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley acknowledged that the figures are worrying for the party but he said it was due to difficult decisions that the Government had to take in the country’s interests.
“Obviously, the poll result is very disappointing but I’m not overly surprised. We’ve had to take a lot of unpopular decisions and we have to work harder to explain the difficult choices to people and indicate that they are part of the road to recovery. I’d be confident that when we explain the reasons for NAMA and the cuts in spending that people will see that while they are difficult, it’s the only way to bring about recovery.”
Deputy Dooley topped the poll in Clare in 2007 but if an early election were to be called in the coming months, he would surely find it difficult to repeat that performance.
However, he said he isn’t thinking about his own seat. “You’re elected to do a job and you have to deal with the situation as you find it. My view is that you have to tell people how it is and work to the best of your ability rather than ducking and diving because you’re focused on getting re-elected.”
He also gave his backing to Taoiseach Brian Cowen, whose satisfaction rating is just 15%, who he doesn’t see being replaced in the short term. “He will lead us into the next election and then it’s up to the people to decide if he has succeeded in addressing the difficulties that are there, not just domestically but internationally.”
Fine Gael TD Joe Carey was pleased by his party’s performance. “There is a huge response to Fine Gael and we did very well in the local and European elections. It’s encouraging to be at twice the level of Fianna Fáil but it’s only a snapshot in time.”
However, he feels that the party mightn’t have too long to wait for a return to Government for the first time since 1997. “People want a change of leadership and they’re looking to Fine Gael. The next election mightn’t be too far away and, hopefully, we will capitalise on the rating in the polls.”
His party colleague, Pat Breen, said that there was a mood for change both in Clare and the rest of the country. “It’s quite obvious that people want a change of Government and they see Fine Gael as an alternative. The Government has failed in a number of areas. In Clare, they have neglected health services and Shannon Airport since they came to office and they have no real interest in the county,” the Fine Gael TD said.