Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams as Ireland’s next prime minister may not be as fanciful as many think.

The real prospect of Sinn Fein leading the next Irish government is now apparent.

The latest opinion poll in the Irish Times shows Sinn Fein leaping to 24 per cent support with fellow opposition members Fianna Fail at 17 per cent and independents at 15 per cent.

Gerry Adams is now the most popular party leader after an eight point jump put him ahead of Enda Kenny
That combined total of opposition votes puts them at 56 per cent, well ahead of the governing coalition of Fine Gael and Labor who amass only 42 per cent of the vote.

It is clear that Sinn Fein are having the Labour party for lunch, the Labourites are down to 10 per cent with the vast majority of their voters shifting to Sinn Fein.

Even Fianna Fail, architects of the economic mess, are making a comeback because they are in opposition

It is inevitable in a massive economic downturn that the government parties take the heat. But the Labour Party is especially being decimated.

It is always thus it seems. Minority parties in governments --see Liberal Party in England, are usually the ones who take the brunt of the criticism.

The poll is yet another milestone for Sinn Fein who have commenced an inexorable march towards power in Ireland North and South.

While the shadow of the North’s war loomed large even in the recent presidential election, as time passes such concerns will disappear.

The next election is not due until about 2015, by which time Sinn Fein will have had several years to consolidate power.

They happen to be very good at that and are finally luring good young candidates in the Irish Republic to match the calibre of their leaders in Northern Ireland.

The European treaty poll this week should pass, according to all the experts and polls but one wonders if there is not a hidden no vote lurking in the undergrowth.

Certainly, given the statistics of this latest poll, if anti-government voters turn out in numbers they could easily defeat it.

There will be many nervous faces until the votes are counted.