While portal antics saw politicians feel ‘let down’, the poll brought others (not Mary Lou) right back up again

Your essential end-of-week politics catch up including Pearse Doherty accused of being ‘Jekyll and Hyde ’ on housing

Story of the Week

There’s no getting away from Thursday’s shock opinion poll suggesting Sinn Féin and Fine Gael are now neck and neck on 23 per cent support.

What was once an 18 point lead for Sinn Féin over Fine Gael in 2022 has vanished in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll results.

It all points to a hotly contested Local and European Elections race with just three weeks to go until people cast their votes.

While Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin will be mulling over what happened, the new Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris must be doing backflips at his party’s standings.


He is also personally ahead of McDonald with a satisfaction rating of 38 per cent, two points ahead of the Sinn Féin leader.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin is ahead of both of them on 46 per cent, though his party, on 20 per cent, is behind its two main rivals.

You would have to suspect Fianna Fáil will have an uphill battle to fight if it wants to maintain its position as the largest party in local government after June’s election though the party is not accepting it will lose its crown just yet:

Further results of the poll have been published today, offering an insight on voters’ views on immigration which appear to be hardening.

A clear majority of voters who express a view say immigration in general has been a positive for Ireland.

However, voters also favour a more closed asylum policy and greater efforts by the Government to deport people whose asylum applications have failed.

Expect immigration to feature in the run-up to the local and European elections in a way that has not happened before in an Irish election.

Aside from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s poll results, the other Coalition partner, the Green Party, is on 4 per, down one point on the last poll.

With 47 per cent between them it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the current Coalition could be returned to power.

Much will depend on the results of next month’s local and European elections but should the Coalition parties – or even just Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – have a good day at the polls, the likelihood of an early general election will surely rise considerably.

Bust up

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty is well-known for his high-decibel Dáil contributions lambasting the Government, particularly during Leaders’ Questions on a Thursday where he fills in for Mary Lou McDonald.

This Thursday was no different but as Marie O’Halloran reports he came under fire from both Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl when a row over housing erupted in the Dáil Chamber.

Mr Doherty said Martin and Fianna Fáil had promised before the last general election to make 50,000 homes available at prices “less than €250,000″ and asking where they were, the Sinn Féin TD said they did not exit.

Martin defended the Government’s housing record and accused Doherty of being a “Jekyll and Hyde character” saying Sinn Féin had voted against a new sovereign wealth fund despite Doherty telling Davy Stockbrokers that his party would support it.

Later in the exchange when Mr Doherty interrupted and repeatedly called for answers, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl warned him that he would suspend the House.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl accused him of “strategically heckling constantly.”

Marie’s full report can be found here.

Banana skin

Perhaps it was predictable but the live-stream ‘Portal’ between Dublin and New York was disabled during the week in the wake of inappropriate behaviour – including lewd flashing – from people in both cities.

Dublin City Council has said the team behind the portal, Portals.org, has been investigating possible technical solutions to prevent such behaviour being beamed across the Atlantic.

There has been some political reaction with Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe saying that people who engaged in the inappropriate behaviour have “let us all down”.

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said people using the portal need to be “cognisant” of the fact that children may be watching.

Micheál Martin was a bit more relaxed on the topic when he was asked about it by reporters on Thursday.

He said there is large and diverse population “you’re going to get stuff, behaviour like that ... and I would wish it didn’t happen.”

“Now it’s an interesting concept, the Portal, and people will get up to all sorts of pranks and stuff like that.

“I haven’t been exercised by it to date to be honest.”

He added: “When you were in your class long ago there was always people doing different things in the classroom. I can recall some hilarious activities – would we say ‘so and so let the class down’ when we were all roaring laughing?

“That’s my take.”

Winners and losers


It has been a bad week for democracy.

The assassination attempt on Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico has obviously been the most serious incident and has been condemned from all quarters.

Closer to home 94 per cent of Oireachtas members that responded to a survey reported that they experienced some form of threat, harassment, abuse or violence.

Meanwhile, there have been some shocking cases of abuse and some violence against candidates on the local election trail.

Green Party councillor Janet Horner was hit and threatened while out canvassing and hanging posters in Dublin.

Independent councillor Tania Doyle said she feared that she and her husband would be killed in the violent, unprovoked attack which took place in Hartstown, Dublin, on the same day Ms Horner was attacked.

Canvassers for Fianna Fáil Limerick local election candidate Suzzie O’Deniyi were targeted in what has been described as a “beyond vile” verbal attack.


This week’s winners are the candidates putting themselves forward for election to represent and help their communities.

They are doing so in an environment of increased vitriol and abuse directed at politicians and, in some cases, threats to their physical safety.

The losers are the people who seem incapable of respectful, robust debate and instead seek to attack, frighten and intimidate politicians and their teams.

The Big Read

Many people – Ie European Election candidates – are waiting for the latest results from The Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll which will be published tomorrow.

Who’s ahead among the 27 candidates in Midlands North-West and the 23 contenders in both the Dublin and South constituencies? And how are the parties faring in terms of lcaol election voting intentions? All will be revealed, with Political Editor Pat Leahy looking at the results. Jennifer Bray has a guide to everything you need to know about the upcoming elections, including the mayoral election in Limerick, the first of its kind in Ireland. And if you’ve ever wondered what a councillor or MEP does, she has the answers.

Hear here

In this week’s Inside Politics podcast episode on disinformation, Jack Horgan-Jones points to changes in Ireland’s Ukraine policy as an example of Government spin.

The actual reason [for the change] is they’re trying to depress numbers arriving

—  Jack Horgan-Jones