Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Fianna Fail

Ireland's ruling party, Fianna Fáil, has hit its lowest level of public support at 23 percent.

According to the Red C  poll,

Ireland's largest party is Fine Gael, which is on 33 percent, and for the first time ever, Labour has out polled Fine Fail with 24 percent support.



Labour has jumped 7percent and its party leader Eamon Gilmore said the poll represents a "very, very substantial change in Irish politics," and "the emergence of a very genuine three-way contest."



Gilmore added that the changes had the potential to "recast the political map in this country."

Fine Gael spokesman Charlie Flanagan said the upsurge in Fine Gael support clearly indicated that there was a "resurgence" in his party’s fortunes.

Fianna Fáil backbenchers held a meeting with an opinion poll company to ascertain whether or not the Fianna Fáil leadership has depleted public support for the party.



The poll has shown that Fianna Fáil risk losing up to 30 parliament seats in the next general election.



Fianna Fáil Minister Batt O’Keeffe said the results could have been worse.

"You have to look at the circumstances of this poll, taken in the aftermath of the Labour conference and a very good speech by Eamon Gilmore; taken the week that the controversy over the pensions issue, one would have thought that Fianna Fáil could have in fact lost more," he said.




O'Keeffe said there will be an "upswing" in support for Fianna Fáil before the next election.

"People will judge us on the courage and leadership we have shown as a government."