Despite the recent Mairia Cahill IRA rape allegation scandal a new opinion poll shows Sinn Fein is the most popular party in Ireland for the first time.

The Millward Brown poll in The Sunday Independent puts the party at 26 percent, up four percent from an earlier poll.

Party leader Gerry Adams, who has been at the center of the Cahill accusations, sees his personal popularity soar higher than Enda Kenny the Irish Prime Minister.

Fine Gael stands at 22%, down 3 percent, Fianna Fáil is at 20%, down one, Labour is at 7% down two and independents and others are at 23%.

The Sinn Fein performance is astonishing given the massive negative media coverage of the Mairia Cahill story which has dominated the headlines.

Sinn Fein have accepted she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by an IRA member but have strongly denied any cover-up.

The government parties appear to be deeply damaged by the water charges controversy which continues to rage.

Sinn Fein’s teflon-like ability to survive even the most damaging media firestorm leaves their opponents with much head scratching.

If this poll were repeated in a general election it would almost certainly see them in power.

Dissatisfaction with Kenny is at an all time high at 67 percent, while Adams is at 56 percent disapproval as is Labour leader Joan Burton. Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin has the lowest disapproval rating at 54 percent.

The poll also showed huge support for a new political party.