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Pope Francis is Ireland’s ‘most popular world leader’

By Susan Gately - 30 December, 2017

President Michael D Higgins meets Pope Francis – Pic courtesy of RTE.

A poll released on Friday (29th December 2017) shows that Pope Francis is the most popular world leader among Irish people, who rate both the British Prime Minister Theresa May and the US President Donald Trump poorly.

70% of the 1,000 Irish respondents viewed the Pope favourably, with just 21% “unfavourable”.  By contrast President Trump had a 13% popularity, with 82% viewing him unfavourably. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had 22% popularity and 68% disfavour while the German leader, Angela Merkel, was the most popular EU leader around the world, with 49% favourable and 29% unfavourable ratings.

The research was carried out by the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and Gallup International, in 55 countries between October and December. The Irish polling company Red C, a member of WIN, interviewed 1,000 Irish adults online between  4th and 15th December, as part of the survey of a total of 52,793 people. In other countries respondents were interviewed face-to-face, by telephone or online.

In addition to being Ireland’s favourite world leader, Pope Francis emerges as the world’s most popular leader, with 56% favourable and 18% unfavourable. He was viewed positively among 75% of those surveyed in Latin America and 66% within the EU.

Meanwhile another survey, this time conducted for RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live show, showed that just under half the population would like to attend a mass by Pope Francis during his proposed Irish visit for the World Meeting of Families next August.

According to the survey of 1,000 Irish adults by Ámarach Research, 47% of people said they would like to attend a Mass celebrated by the Pope, 41%  said they would not like to, and 12% said they didn’t know either way.

Pope Francis is expected to take part in the World Meeting of Families in Dublin which runs from the 21st to 26th August 2017.  The hope would be that he might be present for the Festival of Families,  a reflective concert style event on Saturday 25 August 2018, and celebrate the solemn Eucharistic Celebration the next day which will gather thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.  The Pope’s itinerary, which will depend on his health, has not been released yet, but during an interview with the Today with Sean O’Rourke radio show before Christmas, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he thought the Pope would celebrate a Mass in the Phoenix Park, just like Pope John Paul II did in 1979, when more than a million people were in attendance.

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