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Political setbacks reduce coalition support to 22%

A SERIES of political setbacks has caused a sharp fall in support for the new Irish Fianna Fail-Labour coalition less than two months after it took office, writes Alan Murdoch.

The coalition's satisfaction rating has fallen to 22 per cent with 68 per cent expressing outright dissatisfaction. This is the lowest support recorded by any administration in the last six years. Dick Spring, the Labour leader, suffered the biggest drop, seeing his approval rating fall from 71 to 36 per cent.

Highly critical media coverage of the appointment of a new tier of well-paid Labour advisers, unemployment above 300,000 for the first time, a lacklustre Budget that raised income tax, and blame for failing to avert 800 job losses in the computer group Digital's Irish plant have rebounded sharply against Labour.

Mr Spring defended the Ir pounds 40,000 a year advisers this week. He said time would prove their value in imagination, energy and new ideas. 'If I ever felt that I had done anything to damage the integrity of the party, I would willingly walk away from public life.'