A new opinion poll has claimed that Senator David Norris is still the favorite to win the Presidential election despite a recent controversy over his alleged views on pedophilia.

The latest Sunday Independent/Quantum Research poll backs Norris as the people’s choice to succeed Mary McAleese despite public outrage at comments made by Norris in old interviews which have resurfaced.

A number of County Councils have refused to back Norris in the wake of his reported views on pedophilia and sexuality.

The Independent Senator has claimed however that he is the victim of a smear campaign and will take heart from the results of the Sunday Independent poll.

The paper claims that Norris currently enjoys 37 percent support amongst those polled and is three times more popular than any other potential candidate.

He commands a significant lead over his closest rivals Michael D. Higgins of the Labor Party and Pat Cox, yet to secure the Fine Gael nomination.

Higgins is now on 13 percent and has gained only one percentage point since he won the right to represent the Labor Party – even though his two opponents in that poll had nine percent support between them.

Cox, believed to be the preferred candidate of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, also enjoys 13 percent support from the new opinion poll

His main rivals for the Fine Gael nomination – Gay Mitchell and Mairead McGuinness – are both on nine percent support but Avril Doyle is well down on just five percent.

Mitchell has dropped two percentage points since the last poll, conducted at the start of June.