Gallagher surges into lead in latest poll

Presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher has taken the lead in the race for the Áras, according to a new poll.

The high profile Louth businessman, who starred in Ireland’s version of 'Dragon’s Den', has streaked to the front and now sits with 39% of the vote in the seven-way contest to succeed Mary McAleese as Irish President, the Red C poll revealed.

Long-time favourite Michael D Higgins, of the Labour Party, has slipped to second, lagging some distance behind independent candidate Gallagher on 27%.

The poll, which has seen Mr Gallagher’s rating soar by 18 points since the last Red C poll nine days ago, will appear in tomorrow’s Sunday Business Post.

The man who entered the contest as somewhat of an outsider is now odds-on with some bookmakers to become president in the election later this month.

According to the poll, third placed Martin McGuinness’s popularity is on the slide, down three points since the last Red C survey to 13%.

The flagging fortunes of Gay Mitchell show no signs of improving, with the Fine Gael man down two points to 8%.

Independent senator David Norris’s support has halved, down seven to 7% while Mary Davis has lost five points to 4%.

Dana Rosemary Scallon is down three points to 2%.

The poll was taken on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, before the latest controversy rocked the singer’s already troubled campaign.

Dana, a former Euro sceptic MEP, has vowed to stay in the race despite the wrangle linked to a bitter family row.

"Well, I haven’t had a chance to study the poll, but I’m just hugely heartened and warmed by the welcome I’m receiving around the country," said Gallagher.

Bookmaker Paddy Power slashed Mr Gallagher’s odds from 5/2 to 8/15 odds on favourite with Michael D Higgins drifting from 2/5 to 11/8.

“This is by far the most significant swing in the presidential campaign so far,” said the bookie.

“Those lucky punters who backed Gallagher at 66/1 must be cracking open the champagne tonight.”

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