A new opinion poll has suggested that Sinn Féin is now the most popular political party on the island of Ireland.
The poll for the Sunday Times newspaper indicates that support for the party in the 26 Counties has risen to 25%, representing another 4% gain for Sinn Féin in successive polls.
The main losers in the poll were Fianna Fáil, whose support fell by 4% to 16%. The party is still blamed for Ireland’s economic downfall and has failed to distinguish itself from the policies of the current coalition.
Since the last similar poll in December, support for Fine Gael in the 26 Counties has gone up by two points to 32%, while support for their coalition partners Labour has dipped by 1% to 10%.
On an all-island basis, Fine Gael now has the support of 24% of Irish voters, but it has been outstripped by Sinn Féin, who can count on over 25% -- thanks to its support in the Six Counties, where it won 27% of the vote in Assembly elections last year.
The result is all the more encouraging for Sinn Féin activists as it marks a major turnaround from a disappointing Presidential election campaign earlier this year, when its candidate, Martin McGuinness, secured only 13% of the vote.
Satisfaction with all the party leaders in the South has dropped since December, though some have suffered more than others. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams retains the highest rating of any leader, at 46%, down 2%.
Satisfaction with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is down three points to 41%, while Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore drops one to 34%.
Fianna Fáil’s Micheal Martin is down a substantial seven points to 33%.
Satisfaction with the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government is unchanged, at 26%, while 70% are dissatisfied, and 3% have no opinion.
The Sunday Times ‘Behaviour and Attitudes’ is a demographically- weighted telephone poll of eligible voters and has a margin of error of 3%.