'People will judge us when the term of the Government is over': Cork Fianna Fáil TDs defiant despite polling

'People will judge us when the term of the Government is over': Cork Fianna Fáil TDs defiant despite polling

Deputy Padraig O' Sullivan. Picture: Conor McCabe

A CORK Fianna Fáil TD has said that while he is concerned by the latest poll figures, which show a decline in support for the party, it would not deter him from running in the next election.

The latest Business Post/Red C poll put party support at 11% — and at just 7% for voters under 35.

Speaking to The Echo, Cork North Central TD Pádraig O’Sullivan said the latest results are undoubtedly a blow.

“I am conscious of polls. Trends, more so than actual numbers, is what I look out for but it’s always concerning when you’re down to 11%,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said while people’s frustrations with Covid-19 restrictions and pandemic fatigue have likely influenced the latest results, the party must ask itself the “hard questions”.

“I think it’s too easy to say it’s all pandemic-related. We have to be cognisant of the fact that maybe it’s reflective of our performance in Government.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the poll affected party morale but that the focus remains on the vaccine rollout programme and supporting the economy.

“Nobody’s happy when you’re at 11%, there’s no point in pretending that people aren’t affected by it, but people are conscious of the job that needs to be done,” he said.

“We just need to concentrate on the vaccine rollout, concentrate on supporting the economy, and concentrate on getting people back to normal as quickly as possible,” he said. “This week and next week, there’s going to be a major ramping up of the vaccination process.”

“I’m just hoping that we can get these vaccines out as quickly as we can and ensure that the commitment to have the majority of adults vaccinated by September comes true.”

The Irish Examiner reported that a number of Fianna Fáil TDs are considering not running for election again following the latest poll figures, which appear to suggest the party will lose a significant number of seats in any future general elections.

However, Mr O’Sullivan said he would not shy away from running in the next election, whenever that was.

“People will judge us when the term of the Government is over — and people have a right to judge,” he said. “As a person you have to be able to stand up and take that judgment for better or for worse.

“I certainly wouldn’t be fearful of campaigning again. It’s something I intend on doing and hopefully I’ll be able to do it from a position where I can argue that the Government did its best during a global pandemic and hope that people vindicate that at whatever time that might be.”

Mr O’Sullivan said there are “contrary opinions, like any party”, within Fianna Fáil, but said he believes that is important.

“I disagree with many things that have gone on throughout the pandemic in terms of our strategy,” he said. “I think debate, difference of opinion, is a good thing.

“That’s reflected in a party in the middle — you get those contrary opinions and that can only be a good thing.”

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photo: Damien Storan.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. Photo: Damien Storan.

Meanwhile, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath has said that the Government is focusing on delivering for the people and not on “internal debate”.

The Fianna Fáil minister, a TD for Cork South Central, told The Echo that people “don’t have much time at the moment for speculation about political parties or the future of individuals” and instead want to see Government “get on with the job”.

“We are making a lot of progress on the vaccination programme and we have a plan now for the gradual reopening of society and the economy and Fianna Fáil as a party in Government has the opportunity now to deliver for the people and that’s where we should be focused, not on any internal debate or analysis.

“We should just focus on delivering for the people we represent and worry about the next election as all parties do when that time comes.”

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