Martin McGuinness has received another major boost in his bid to become President of Ireland – Sinn Fein are now the second most popular political party in the Republic.
Only Fine Gael attracted more support in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBU opinion poll published on Friday morning.
The results of the poll will be seen as a big boost for McGuinness, a close third to Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher in the election polls.
The new survey shows Sinn Fein narrowly ahead of both the Labor Party and Fianna Fail.
Senior government partners Fine Gael have maintained their status as the country’s top party despite a lack of public support for their Presidential election candidate Gay Mitchell.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is also continuing to woo the voters as Ireland’s most popular party boss.
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A thousand voters were polled in the Irish Times survey and asked who they would vote for if a General Election was called tomorrow. Their opinions were then contrasted with the last poll, conducted on July 20th.
As with the previous survey, Fine Gael came out on top with 35 per cent support, down just three points from July.
Sinn Fein came in second on 18 per cent, up a full eight points on their summer showing.
Coalition partners Labor are down one point to 17 per cent while Fianna Fáil dropped two points to 16 per cent. Independents and others are down two points to 12 per cent and the Green Party, without a representative in the Irish parliament, remain on just two per cent support.
The core vote results, before undecided voters were excluded, were: Fine Gael, 29 per cent (down one point); Labor, 13 per cent (down one point); Fianna Fáil, 13 per cent (down one point); SinnFéin, 14 per cent (up six points); Green Party, 2 per cent (up one point); Independents/Others, 10 per cent (down one point); and undecided voters, 19 per cent (down three points).
Sinn Fein’s level of support is now almost twice that it enjoyed at the polls in the General Election in February, The party is strongest among men and poorer voters and weakest among women and better-off voters.
Some 28 per cent of men back Sinn Fein compared with just 11 per cent of women.
Fine Gael remains the largest party in Dublin while Labor remains ahead of Sinn Fein in the capital.
Support for the government has dropped marginally while satisfaction with PM Kenny is down two points to 51 per cent. His deputy Eamon Gilmore, leader of the Labor Party, is also down two points to a 42 per cent satisfaction rating.
The botched Presidential election campaign has done Fianna Fail no favors with leader Micheál Martin down nine points to 28 per cent satisfaction with voters.
Like his party, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is up in this latest poll and now enjoys 36 per cent support.