A Fine Gael TD has said the party are urgently trying to “save face” after a second opinion poll in as many days showed their candidate Gay Mitchell’s bid lies in tatters.
Mitchell’s popularity has slumped dramatically after appearances on the Late Late Show and on the TV3 debate. The Dublin native is now ranked second last in the running to be the next president.
Internal rumblings are heightening divisions within the party with rumours surfacing that not all Fine Gael TDs and senators were canvassing for Mitchell. It has been claimed that a group of TDs, some of whom tried to oust Enda Kenny as leader, are refusing to back the nomination in an attempt to “embarrass” the Taoiseach.
Mitchell was chosen as the party’s candidate ahead of Mairead McGuinness and Pat Cox, but many believe he is out of his depth.
It is accepted as inevitable that Kenny will be damaged politically if Mitchell finishes behind Martin McGuinness, David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon in the polls
McGuinness claimed yesterday that the poll showed that Mitchell’s attacks on his IRA past had backfired.
The Sinn Fein candidate retains his position in third place but his chances will be affected by poor transfer prospects from other candidates.
Mitchell rejected the idea that his negative campaign against McGuinness had backfired or that he didn’t have the support of the party.