A poll in today’s Irish Independent perhaps shows why Sinn Fein are happy enough to play a long game over the pressure currently being heaped on them.
The party’s support in the Republic has fallen by only 1 per cent from last November, to 9 per cent.
However Gerry Adams personal rating has fallen 22 per cent to 31 per cent. He has traditionally enjoyed a high rating among people who do not necessarily vote Sinn Fein. (Indeed, Alex Maskey claimed on Wednesday that this was one reason why the Irish Government acused him of being on the Army Council.)
In the short term, this poll will probably encourage Sinn Fein to stand their ground. However, it may signal a problem in future. Under the Irish single transferable vote system, candidates usually need to top up their vote with second preference transfers from other parties in order to win.
Winning transfers has always been a problem for Sinn Fein, and it could be especially acute at the next election it if takes place in anything like the current atmosphere, which it very well might.
The full Irish party standings will appear in tomorrow’s Indo