Fianna Fáil to abstain from motion of no confidence in Government

The party has opened up an 11 point lead as the country's most popular party - with a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the government set for debate next week

Micheal Martin, opinion poll, party leader, government, popularity, new poll, Behaviour and Attitudes

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Fianna Fáil has confirmed the party will abstain from voting on a motion of no confidence in the government next week.

Sinn Féin submitted the motion last night over the government’s handling of the garda whistleblower controversy and the ongoing crisis in the health service.

The latest Sunday Times Behaviour and Attitudes opinion poll, released today, has shown that Fianna Fáil has opened up an 11-point lead over Fine Gael as the country’s most popular party - leading to speculation they may use the motion of no confidence to spark a new general election.

However, the party's spokesperson on expenditure and reform, Dara Calleary said the Sinn Féin motion is not what the country currently needs:

"The motion of no confidence that Sinn Féin are putting down is entirely opportunistic at this point in time - all it is is political game-playing," he said.

"We want answers as to what happened in this situation regarding Tusla and Sergeant Maurice McCabe and his family; this motion will not give those answers.

"We want to ensure that a commission of inquiry is established to investigate all of the issues that have been highlighted." 

11 point lead

The Sunday Times poll shows Fianna Fáil up three points to 32% with Fine Gael dropping two points to 21%.

Sinn Féin has risen two points to 19%.

The results give Fianna Fáil its biggest lead since the current poll began according to Stephen O'Brien, Political Editor with the Sunday Times.

“Five and a half years ago - six months after the general election of 2011 - Fine Gael were on 44% and Fianna Fáil were on 15% - that is 26 point lead for Fine Gael,” he said.

“Fast forward to today and Fine Gael are 11 points behind Fianna Fáil - that is a 40 point turnaround.”

The co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall said recent events will make for an interesting week ahead for Fianna Fáil:

“I think they are going to come under extraordinary pressure this week because they are in this arrangement with Fine Gael and when it is put up to them - when they are asked whether they have confidence in Enda Kenny and his colleagues in Fine Gael - can they honestly answer yes to that question?” she asked.

“Who can say they have confidence in the present government?”

Garda whistleblower controversy

The poll was taken over nine days leading up to last Wednesday - just as the latest controversy surrounding the Maurice McCabe scandal was developing.

Mr O’Brien said the latest revelations likely had very little influence on the poll results.

“The controversy was really only developing real heat and catching on on the 8th of February - the last day - so it is not really reflected in this poll,” he said.

“Ironically sometimes when a government is under stress but getting a lot of headlines that can actually help its numbers so we will have to see how that works out.”

In a statement this afternoon Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald confirmed the party had tabled a motion of no confidence in the government and called for support for the motion from all opposition TDs - and Fianna Fáil.

"There is a choice facing each Dáil deputy and party, including Fianna Fáil - to bring this chaos to an end or to facilitate a government that has lost its authority," she said.