Micheál Martin won’t push for early election after bounce in popularity

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has strongly dismissed the possibility of forcing an early election to take advantage of the bounce in his popularity.

However, he has admitted a series of dismal polls in the lead-up to the general election “sapped morale from the party”.

It comes as two polls released yesterday show Fianna Fáil growing in popularity, with support for Fine Gael remaining static or falling slightly.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School last night, Mr Martin described the polls as “a distraction” and distanced himself from the idea of pushing an early election to take advantage of the boost in support.

“It’s just not thinkable you would be contemplating an election two or three months after a confidence and supply arrangement we arrived at in good faith.

“In this particular period, they are pretty meaningless in one sense, we are in a very sort of new phase of post-general election politics and I don’t think they tell me a whole lot. Other than that, you might get a sense, because of Brexit, people might be moving back to the mainstream, and less impressed with Brexit. But, by and large, I am dismissive of the polls now as they have been before the election.

“We have facilitated the formation of this minority government. It’s only 100 days in office, give or take two or three days. People just need to calm down.”

The Behaviour and Attitudes poll for The Sunday Times showed Fianna Fáil on 30% — up five points in four weeks.

Fine Gael are on 25%, down 1%, in that poll. A poll in The Sunday Business Post contained similar figures.

But Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said a new way of evaluating the current Government has to be found.

“I think you have to have a different calculus for evaluating how a government like this is formed and how it actually works. We are a minority government, we are an underdog government, we are a plucky government in a Dáil which has strong other parties in it,” he told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

He said the duration of the current Government and questions over how long it can last is not what is driving the current government.

“What is driving what we do is the ensure how we deliver better benefits for people. We are in a different political environment here now, we have to win the argument by the strength of the case we put forward not by the number of votes we have behind us.

AAA-PBP TD Clare Daly said Fine Gael are “utterly demoralised”.

“The joke doing the rounds at the moment is that with decision-making comes responsibility but now Fianna Fáil are making the decisions and Fine Gael are getting all the blame and all the responsibility,” she said.

“The morale among Fine Gael members from ministerial level down is utterly demoralised at the moment, Fianna Fáil are calling the shots, that is being reflected in the opinion polls.”

But Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath said he believed the current political situation was working. He added that a recent Independent motion on rural broadband had passed through the Dáil.


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