FF support plummets to 17% in shock poll

PUBLIC support for Fianna Fáil continues to crumble, leaving the Government with a massive struggle to push through the Lisbon treaty, NAMA and budget cutbacks.

A shock new opinion poll shows Fianna Fáil on just 17%, down three points since the last comparable poll in May, and a massive eight points since the local elections in June.

The poll completed a triple-whammy of blows for Taoiseach Brian Cowen, after figures showed unemployment rising to record levels and Government finances deteriorating further.

His own approval ratings are plummeting, with just 15% of people saying they are satisfied with the job he is doing, down six points since May.

The bad news came as Mr Cowen launched Fianna Fáil’s Lisbon campaign, saying a yes vote was crucial to Ireland’s economy recovery.

Asked if he would resign if the public again rejected the treaty, he said he was refusing to contemplate defeat.

But the poll shows Mr Cowen and his party face a huge task in convincing the public to support Lisbon.

It suggests that NAMA, the Government’s proposal to buy €90 billion of risky property loans from banks in a bid to restore them to health, is also deeply unpopular with voters.

The poll may make Fianna Fáil TDs even more nervous about supporting a December budget that will involve €4bn of tax increases and spending cuts.

Fine Gael now enjoys double the support of Fianna Fáil, on 34%. A spokesman said the poll was proof that “the public do not want Fianna Fáil and they do not want NAMA”.

Labour is on 24%, up one point since May, while Sinn Féin is up two to 10%.

The Green Party isunchanged at 3%, while Independents are up two points to 12% in the poll, conducted by TNS mrbi for the Irish Times.

The findings came as Exchequer figures showed the tax take for the year so far was €427 million less than predicted just last April. The Exchequer deficit has now widened to €18.7bn.

Live Register figures, meanwhile, showed that one in eight Irish people are now on the dole. The number of people seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance rose from 423,400 in July to 428,800 last month, an increase for the month of 5,400.

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