Sinn Fein is the most popular party in Ireland with 26 per cent support one point ahead of Fine Gael the current majority party in the government a new poll shows.

Despite recent controversies Gerry Adams is tied for the most popular leader of any political party with 29 per cent approval rating  the same as Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin according to the Sunday Independent poll.

Fine Gael will be pleased that their vote has increased by five points to 25 per cent but their coalition partners, The Labour Party are mired in a slump with just six per cent support.

They could potentially be almost wiped out if that figure were reproduced in a general election.

The Sinn Fein and Fine Gael increase comes mainly at the expense of independent candidates. Independents previously polled at 32 per cent but are down to 23 per cent.

It now appears likely that Fine Gael and Sinn Fein will be the two largest parties after the next election as Fianna Fail remain stuck just under the 20 percent mark at 19 per cent.

If that is the outcome it could set up a tense period after the next election, due at the latest in April 2016, with Fine Gael and Sinn Fein both trying to form a government but it is highly unlikely they would agree to go into coalition with each other.

Sinn Fein’s better standing comes at a time when they are the only major party that supports Greek demand that the massive debt that countries owe the European Union must be renegotiated.