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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
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# polling numbers
McDonald on the rise of Holly Cairns: 'It's extremely positive. I'm delighted for her'
Support for the Social Democrats more than doubled in a month following the election of Cairns as its new leader.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou has said she is not threatened by the rise in success of Holly Cairns, the new leader of the Social Democrats. 

An opinion poll last week showed support for the Social Democrats had more than doubled following the election of Cairns as its new leader.

The Ireland Thinks/Sunday Independent poll showed support for the Social Democrats jumped from 4% to 9%. 

While the poll shows that Sinn Féin remains the most popular party, it shows the party support has dropped by two points, and now stands at 29%.

Fine Gael saw a one point drop in support to 21%, while Fianna Fáil stands at 19% – up one.

When reporters in New York asked McDonald if she feels threatened at all by the impact of Cairns’ success and whether she thought the doubling poll numbers might be a flash in the pan, McDonald said: 

“I am not, not in the least. I think is incredibly positive to see another woman, a young woman in a position of political leadership. I can commend her for it, because it’s not easy. It’s a very challenging role. And I’m delighted for her quite frankly.”

McDonald said in her view, it is “extremely positive”. When asked about Sinn Féin’s stagnating polling numbers, she said “we’re in a very strong position actually in terms of our polling”.

“I believe that we will maintain our levels of support and I hope grow again, through hard work,” she said.

“And for me, the more people that are talking about change, are committing themselves to delivering change, that is music to my ears,” she told reporters.

“I’m delighted to hear that. Sinn Féin, in my opinion, is at the vanguard of driving that demand for political change. But there are others on the field as well. Other parties, other individuals who equally believe and know that we can sort housing, believe and know that we can build a better, stronger, fairer, more equal in Ireland.

“And I’m very interested to develop all of those areas that we share in common,” said the Sinn Féin leader, perhaps leaving a door open to future government formation talks with the SocDems. 

Election ready 

McDonald said her party is election ready, adding that the dynamics of Irish politics right now is essentially those who are attached to the status quo, “who like things and want to keep things as they are, those who have run the state for more than 100 years”.

“And then there are those people like myself, like Sinn Fein, who believe that we can do a whole lot better and who are driving for change, and that will be the dynamic of the election. Whenever that election is called. We await it, we will face it, we will go out and say to people in a spirit of humility, but also ambition, ‘give us the chance to demonstrate to you what can actually be done in in government’”.  

McDonald said her party’s position is “very, very strong”, but added the she doesn’t take Sinn Féin’s polling numbers for granted, stating there is a body of work to be done to ensure that they are maintained right up to election time.