Creighton tries to move past shaky start

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton moved to put the party’s shaky launch behind her as more than one in five voters said they might support the new force in Irish politics.

Despite the unveiling of the party’s name and intentions being criticised for lack of policy detail and costings for the pledges announced, and a “brain freeze” radio incident by one of its three TDs, Renua appears to be gaining traction with the electorate.

Polling taken before the launch showed 8% of people say they are “very likely” to vote for Renua, while another 14% said they were “fairly likely”, according to a Behaviour & Attitudes survey for the Sunday Times.

Insisting the party was bigger than herself, Ms Creighton said she wanted to break the “parish pump” limitations of Irish politics.

“The blurred lines that exist between local government and national politics are obvious,” the Dublin TD told Newstalk. “There are TDs who are fixing potholes — on the one hand it’s a positive that we have our politicians connected at local level and I would like to see that continue.”

Party members rallied round TD Terence Flanagan after an unusual radio performance, which Ms Creighton put down to a panic attack.

Ms Creighton said the party would seek to abolish Irish Water and replace it with a different entity, but that excess use would still be charged for.

“Irish citizens are entitled to a basic amount of water for free. It’s a human right. But I have no difficulty with charging for the excess use of water,” the former Europe minister said.

The opinion poll saw a three-point fall in support for Sinn Féin to 19%, after continued questions about how the party handled child abuse allegations against IRA members.

Coalition parties fared better, with Fine Gael rising three points to 27%, and Labour up four points at 9%.

Fianna Fáil flatlined on 18%, causing concern among TDs as they face into the crunch Carlow-Kilkenny byelection in May.

Independents dropped three points to 27% in the snapshot of public opinion.

Backing for extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples remained high at 73%, with 22% opposing the move, and 5% unable to express an opinion.

The poll found Ms Creighton polarises opinion, with 41% of respondents saying they were “very unlikely” to vote for the party, while 24% are “fairly unlikely” to support it.

The role of co-founder Eddie Hobbs caused confusion at the party’s launch, as he insisted he had not made up his mind whether to stand for the party, but its website said he was a declared candidate.

The poll surveyed 959 people over 10 days up to last Wednesday night.

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