Sinn Féin and Fine Gael draw level in polls

Sinn Féin and Fine Gael are now the joint most popular parties in Ireland, according to the first opinion poll since the local and European elections.

In addition, despite the controversy over the arrest of Gerry Adams in connection with the murder of Jean McConville, he was the only party leader to see an improvement in the popularity ratings among voters.

Reflecting the trends in last month’s elections, Sinn Féin and Independent candidates particularly are capitalising on a backlash by voters against the traditional mainstream parties and bailout-imposed austerity measures.

Bearing the brunt is the junior government coalition partner Labour, whose support has plunged 7% among voters.

Amid an intensifying battle for the leadership of the party — after Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore stood aside ahead of an expected heave — its support has nose-dived from 11% to just 4%.

The Red C poll, carried out for bookmaker Paddy Power, also reveals a 3% drop in support for the Coalition’s main party Fine Gael, down to 22%, one of its lowest showings since being elected to power in 2011.

Fianna Fáil has also dipped in the popularity stakes by 3% to leave them securing 18% of the overall vote, according to the study.

This is only 1% higher than they performed after their disastrous outing at the last general election, as voters punished them for their governing role during the economic collapse.

Sinn Féin is up 4% in the poll to 22% support — making it the most popular party in the country alongside Fine Gael.

Independents have cornered nearly a third of the electorate’s votes, rising 9% up to 32%.

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