Gilmore: Labour support maintained
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted the Labour Party is not suffering under growing support for Sinn Fein in the latest opinion poll.
A survey carried out this week puts the junior coalition partners one point behind Gerry Adams' party, but well inside the three point margin of error.
Mr Gilmore said at 17%, down one, Labour support had been maintained since going into power with Fine Gael and remains around the record February election result.
"In fact if you look at the opinion poll the Labour Party support is holding steady. We are in a margin of error of what we got in the general election, which was our best ever result," the Tanaiste said.
"There isn't going to be a general election for four-and-a-half years and at this stage of the match this Government is not looking up at the scoreboard, we are concentrated on doing our job."
According to the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll Sinn Fein is now the second most popular party at 18% with analysts linking the eight point jump in part to Martin McGuinness's high profile presidential bid. It also showed a drop in support for Fine Gael, down three to 35% and Fianna Fail, at 16% down two.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael has rejected suggestions Gay Mitchell's tilt at the presidency is doomed in the wake of two dire opinion poll results in the first week of the campaign.
Director of elections Charlie Flanagan dismissed reports that the party was running a damage limitation exercise around the MEP's Aras bid. "The party is foursquare behind Gay Mitchell as Presidential candidate," Mr Flanagan said.
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, farmer Sean Gallagher has come out top of a poll of cattle and sheep farmers. Mr Gallagher, better known for his Dragon's Den role than his rural background, took 30% of the narrow support base, with Gay Mitchell losing further ground at just over a fifth.
Results for other contenders were Michael D Higgins on 16%, Martin McGuinness 12%, David Norris 9%, Mary Davis 5% and Dana 3%. The ICSA said Mr Higgins was the most transfer-friendly, getting a fifth of second preferences.