Varadkar says Govt handling of National Children's Hospital is 'quite a debacle'

Varadkar says Govt handling of National Children's Hospital is 'quite a debacle'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described his own government's mishandling of the National Children's Hospital as a “debacle”.

However, he said it is not the reason as to why his party's popular support has slipped over the past six months.

He was speaking after the latest IPSOS/MRBI poll in the Irish Times which showed support for Fine Gael has slipped to 30% while his own personal popularity has slipped by eight points.

“No is the short answer. I don’t think it has done us any favours obviously because it has been quite a debacle. I do think though that when the children’s hospital is fully constructed and up and running nobody will doubt that it was a good investment and nobody will be sorry that we built it,” he said.

He accepted that over the past six months, his party's support has slipped from the mid-30s to the low 30s in percentage terms.

“I never read too much into any one poll but I am not going to pretend that I ignore them. I tend to take them in threes or fours. And what is evident is that over the course of the past six months support for my party, Fine Gael, which I suppose had been mid-30s is now low 30s. There may be lots of reasons for that.

"How do you deal with it? How do you improve that? You concentrate on the issues people care about: Brexit, the economy, jobs, putting money in people’s pockets, making progress in healthcare and housing. That is how I am going to respond,” he said.

Pressed as to why his popularity has waned, he said: “I can’t know that for sure. There may be lots of different reasons. One thing we have definitely seen from the middle of July last year is a real fall-off in consumer confidence. Consumer confidence in Ireland is now back to where it was in 2012. Bear in mind 2012 was in the teeth of austerity and right after the financial crisis and that is happening despite the fact that there is almost full employment, rising incomes and rising living standards.”

“Perhaps some of that is related to Brexit, concerns around Brexit. Perhaps it is related to other matters too.

There are definite issues around the cost of living, of course, issues around rents and so on.

"We need to analyse that. What I am absolutely convinced of as a government, involving Fine Gael and Independents, and as a party, the best way to recover your poll ratings is the concentrate on the people’s business, doing the stuff they want you to do.

"Getting Brexit right, keeping the economy and jobs safe, improving living standards, making progress in health care and housing and that is entirely my focus and that of government,” he said.

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