Two opinion polls show Sean Gallagher strongly on track to be Ireland’s next president in one of the most remarkable political stories ever.
Gallagher, who had never run for political office and was best known for his role on a reality TV business show, leads in the Sunday Business Post poll by 14 points and in the Irish Sunday Times poll by 12 points.
He is at 40 percent in the SB Post poll with Michael D. Higgins at 26 percent, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein is at 13 percent and the rest trailing behind.
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The Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell is at a mere 6 percent, a humiliating figure for the government party candidate.
The Sunday Times poll has Gallagher at 38 percent with Higgins at 26 percent and McGuinness on 17 percent.
The Gallagher lead is a major surprise given that bookmakers had strongly backed Higgins to win the race and one bookmaker had even paid out on Higgins. Gallagher has been subject to strong attacks in the media over the past week about his close links to former government party Fianna Fail but they seem not to have impacted his standing.
Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll:
(Standing in last week’s SBP poll in brackets)
[Standings in Red C/Paddy Power poll from October 6 in square brackets]
• Sean Gallagher 40 (39) 
• Michael D Higgins 26 (27) 
• Martin McGuinness 13 (13) 
• David Norris 10 (7) 
• Gay Mitchell 6 (8) 
• Dana Rosemary Scallon 3 (2) 
• Mary Davis 2 (4)