By Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner Political Editor
Popular support for the Government parties has fallen by 3%, according to the latest PaddyPower/Red C opinion poll.
The first poll to be taken during the General Election campaign, it shows that support for Fine Gael has fallen by 1 point to 30% while the Labour Party has fallen back two points to 8%.
The poll surveyed over 1,000 voters and was conducted between 4 February and 8 February, the first few days of the campaign.
There was some modest good news for Fianna Fáil, which is up one point to 18% while Sinn Féin remain static on 17%.
The full findings of the poll are: Fine Gael at 30%, down 1 compared to the last Red C on Sunday. Labour at 8% (-2), Fianna Fáil at 18% (+1), Sinn Féin on 17% (no change), Green Party 2% (no change) and Independents/ Others at 25% (+2).
All the changes are within the margin of error of plus/minus 3%.
Overall, while the poll shows little change in the overall picture, there will be some disappointment for the Labour Party given its slip back into single digits.
While Fine Gael are in the region of where they had expected to be, given their faltering start to the campaign, it is clear they are not benefitting from the kind of momentum they enjoyed in the 2011 General Election.
What is clear is that the current Government remains a long short of being re-elected and given as many as a dozen independents could be needed to take power, the likelihood of a second election has increased significantly.
Within the Independent/Others block there are small gains for some smaller parties: Independents are at 15%, with 4% for the Independent Alliance (+2); AAA/PBP at 4% (+1); Social Democrats at 3% (no change); Green Party 2% (no change) and Renua 2% (+1).
Speaking this morning in reaction to the poll, Ms Burton told RTE's Sean O'Rourke that she remains optimistic about her party's chances in the election.