A MAJOR new opinion poll conducted for the Limerick Leader by researchers based at the University of Limerick has found that almost 63% of the local population believes it was necessary for Willie O'Dea to resign as Defence Minister.
This followed the controversy over his comments about a Sinn Fein councillor.
The poll also found that more than two-thirds of respondents – 66.7% – identified the local jobs shortage as the single biggest problem, with crime accounting for 26.2% of respondents.
Compared to jobs and crime, other local issues barely registered, with the lack of progress in the regeneration of troubled Limerick city estates accounting for less than one percent and the decline of Shannon Airport being chosen by 0.3% of respondents – in effect, just a single response.
The poll was conducted for the Limerick Leader by researchers based at UL and is the result of 300 telephone interviews, conducted between March 10-13, with respondents coming from all all major population centres throughout Limerick city and county.
Commenting on the findings, Maura Adshead, head of the Department of Politics & Public Administration at UL, said the number of respondents who did not believe his departure from office was called for was "smaller than one would expect in a constituency where Willie O'Dea's support has always been so strong. This suggests that many of his own supporters and followers also understand the wider issues at stake. It was necessary for him to resign because if he did not, the government would implicitly be suggesting that name-calling and innuendo are a reasonable way of conducting politics."
A second question in our poll asked how Deputy O'Dea was likely to fare in the next general election.
The biggest percentage of respondents (37%) suggested the controversy would make no difference, with 29.3% saying it would make him less popular with voters and 21.3% of the opinion that it would boost him at the ballot box.
FOR THE FULL STORY, PLUS DETAILS OF OTHER POLL FINDINGS INCLUDING ATTITUDES TO HEALTH CARE AT THE REGIONAL HOSPITAL, THE DECLINE OF SHANNON AIRPORT AND WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THE LIMERICK HURLING DISPUTE, SEE OUR WEEKEND EDITIONS