Northern Ireland political scandals are damaging Sinn Fein in the Republic
Recent political events in Northern Ireland are damaging Sinn Fein's electoral chances in the Republic, according to the head of a major polling company.
Until now, it had been widely accepted that nothing happening on this side of the border had any effect on the party's success in the South.
But support for Sinn Fein has fallen 8% over the first nine months of this year, according to Red C polls.
The party's rating has dropped from a record 24% last December to 16% currently.
The greatest decline in support has been among young voters, Red C chief executive, Richard Colwell, said.
Sinn Fein has been mired in controversy since the murder in August of Kevin McGuigan and PSNI reports that the Provisional IRA were responsible and have not disbanded.
Mr Colwell said: "For Sinn Fein, the issues in the North appear to have done them no favours with voters, with declines in support occurring despite another high-profile anti-water tax march at which party figures were prominent.
"In order to regain the lost ground, they therefore need to move to settle matters in the North quickly, and so re-focus voters' attention on the local issues they are fighting for on their behalf.
"The question then is if this re-focus will be enough to regain voters, with the backdrop of an increasingly positive economic outlook, and an electorate who broadly believe that the country is currently on the right track."
Mr Colwell noted that the greatest decline in support for Sinn Fein was among younger voters: "In December last year, almost a third of 18- to 34-year-old voters claimed they were supporting Sinn Fein but this has fallen to just over 1 in 5 (20%) voters now."