Sinn Fein has joined ruling Fine Gael as the most popular party in the Republic, according to the first opinion poll since the local and European elections.
And despite the controversy over the arrest of Gerry Adams in connection with the murder of Jean McConville, he was the only party leader to see an improvement in the popularity ratings among voters.
Reflecting the trends in last month’s elections, Sinn Fein and independent candidates particularly are capitalising on a backlash by Irish voters against the traditional mainstream parties and bailout-imposed austerity measures. Bearing the brunt is the junior government coalition partner Labour, whose support has plunged seven per cent among voters.
Amid an intensifying battle for the leadership of the party – after Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Eamon Gilmore stood aside ahead of an expected heave – its support has nosedived from 11 per cent to just four per cent.
The Red C poll, carried out for bookmaker Paddy Power, also reveals a three per cent drop in support for ruling Fine Gael, down to 22 per cent – one of their lowest showings since being elected to power in 2011.
Fianna Fail has also dipped in the popularity stakes by three per cent to leave them securing 18 per cent of the overall vote, according to the study. Sinn Fein is up four per cent in the poll to 22 per cent support, while independents have risen nine per cent to 32 per cent.