Updated: 09/12/16 : 04:58:05
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editorial

Fianna Fáil limped through most of 2016

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

THE CLICHE says ''statistics do not lie but some liars use statistics.''

Okay, mark me down as one of the liars! It will keep F and Fers happy, anyway. 

Forty years ago an FF party man in Leitrim said that never, eh, never would I make a journalist. 

That was a couple of days before I was named Ireland's Young Journalist of the Year.

He stuck to his beliefs, fair play to him, and I'm sticking to mine.

My belief is that the current Fianna Fáil regime is going nowhere, slowly.

Yesterday, the airwaves were crowded with 'a four point gain' for the party.... to make it the biggest in the country, blah blah blah.

Seesaw Support

The devil is in the detail. The four point gain in this poll followed on a SEVEN point Fianna Fáil decline in the previous comparable poll.

Not in dispute is that Fianna Fáil heads for Christmas 2016 dominating Munster and also the Connacht Leinster constituency.

But the rest of the country is still up for grabs, as the FF seesaw from summer to Santa shows.

Fianna Fáil lies in third place in Dublin, while it holds second place (only) in the populous 'Rest of Leinster' category outside Dublin.

Those summations are all based on the latest national opinion poll by Ipsos for The Irish Times.

The most intelligent drill-down on the poll figures came from the newspaper's own Deputy Politics Editor, Pat Leahy.

Published yesterday, the poll shows that Fianna Fáil is most trusted by voters over 50 and over 65 years.

Female voters plump, decisively, for Fianna Fáil, this week anyway.

But Fianna Fáil are still only attracting fractions of the national vote share got by Bertie Ahern and Charles Haughey.

Meanwhile, it puzzled me to read the polling company's own analysis speak of a Fianna Fáil ''resurgence.''

As in ''resurgence'' from the dead cat status of February 2011 or summer 2016. Hmm.

Fianna Fáil has failed to win three national elections in the past five years, two from the Opposition benches.

The biggest problem Fianna Fáil still faces is -- not Sinn Fein -- but the relative (rock) steadiness of Fine Gael all through 2016.

Three Bell

Good news for 'the Blueshirts' was there is abundance yesterday, too.

There was nothing in yesterday's poll for Fine Gael that ranked even a three-bell alarm warning.

There is no evidence, anywhere, that Fine Gael is facing an imminent slaughter on the scale of the May 2014 local elections.

The rub of the relic and the recent Vatican visit did Taoiseach Enda Kenny no harm at all, as he caps a challenging year with his personal best in a voter rating since 2012.

It is ''way too early,'' as Pat Leahy wisely judged yesterday, to say that ''the phase of anti-establishment growth in our politics has peaked.''

However, there was NO hard evidence anywhere throughout yesterday's poll of a voter switch-off, or even a write-off of this Government.

Dead Cat

Sinn Fein has failed, in the historic year of 1916, to even once achieve the 'key of the door' percentage in an Ipsos poll for The Irish Times, not even 20%.

The party was ''rarely out of the 20s between 2013 and 2015,'' noted Ipsos Managing Director, Damian Loscher.

Sinn Fein showed yesterday in fourth place in Dublin, just staying ahead of the Labour dead cat.

It's best showings were in the two groups covering voters aged 28-34 and (strongly) among single people.

John Glenn

Postscript: Long before politics or soccer played in the streets of Sligo, I wanted most of all to be a spaceman.

That was not uncommon for six, seven and eight year olds in the early 1960s.

We were inspired by John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Yuri Gagarin. Crackly radio news never sounded so good again. 

Glenn's death yesterday reminds us of the impermanence of all our years and all our achievements.

In our later schooldays Fr Dominick Gillooly taught us an apt poem: ''Death The Leveller,'' written by James Shirley.:-

''.....Sceptre and crown must tumble down, and in the dust be equal made with the poor crooked scythe and spade....''