Support for Labour has doubled since the May local elections, during which the party was almost wiped out — particularly in the Munster area — leading analysts to predict that it would retain just two Dáil seats after 2016.
The Behaviour and Attitudes poll, which involved interviews with 954 voters in all 43 constituencies, published in yesterday’s Sunday Times, found that Sinn Féin, at 19%, is ahead of Fianna Fáil with 18%.
Despite the publication of proposed water charges and further controversy over the Taoiseach’s handling of the resignation of former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, Fine Gael remains the most popular party.
Its support has dropped two points since the last such poll was taken in May to 24% — the same as it was in the local elections.
Independents command 22% support, making the group more popular than any individual party with the exception of Fine Gael.
The non-party group, which made significant gains in the local elections, has steadily grown and maintained support in the low- to mid-twenties in almost all opinion polls since 2011.
Support for the Labour Party has doubled from seven to 14% since the last such poll in May before Joan Burton replaced Eamon Gilmore as leader.
Since her election to the position, three former party leaders have left cabinet — former Labour leader, tánaiste, and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore; former Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte; and former Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn.
The poll will be welcome news to Labour TDs, who almost all faced the prospect of losing their seats if local election results were repeated in a general election.
It puts the party at five percentage points behind its first preference vote share in the 2011 general elections when it won 37 seats.
The poll found that just 27% of voters are satisfied with the way the Government is doing its job. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, is the least popular party leader with a 35% satisfaction rating behind Ms Burton at 45%; Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin at 39%; and Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams at 47%.
Eamon Ryan of the Green Party has 37% satisfaction ratings, boosted by his strong performance as a Dublin candidate in European elections.