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Election poll shows younger voters flock to Sinn Fein as Fianna Fail remains in the lead

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Younger voters are giving Sinn Fein a boost, as Fianna Fail remains in the lead

Younger voters are giving Sinn Fein a boost, as Fianna Fail remains in the lead

PA

Younger voters are giving Sinn Fein a boost, as Fianna Fail remains in the lead

A new poll shows that younger voters are flocking to Sinn Fein ahead of the Irish general election, and are at times neck-and-neck with Fine Gael.

The RED C poll, paid for by the Business Post newspaper, shows Sinn Fein at 19%. It will be a boost to the party, who have been polling strongly throughout the campaign.

If this polling is reflected on February 8, Sinn Fein could be part of a governing coalition, despite both Mr Martin and Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar ruling out any deal with Mary Lou McDonald's party.

It comes as Fianna Fail remain in the lead to be the majority partner in the next government, polling at 26% (+2), followed by Fine Gael down seven points to 23% and then Sinn Fein up by eight at their current position.

Independent candidates are under pressure due to Sinn Fein's popularity and have been pushed down two points to 14%.

The poll carries a margin of error of 3%, having been carried out before the first TV debate on Wednesday. It sampled 1,000 people from January 16 and January 22.

The major issues are health and housing, with 12% of voters saying they trust Fine Gael to manage housing effectively.

In health, 16% said they trusted Sinn Fein to fix the system, compared with 24% trusting Fianna Fail and 14% saying they felt they could rely on Fine Gael to address the issue.

“Housing has been seen to be the most important aspect among voters at this election, and Sinn Fein is seen to be the party by young voters that has the best policies to solve the housing crisis in the next five years,” Richard Colwell, Red C Research’s chief executive, said.

Ahead of the February 8 election, the poll means Sinn Fein could find themselves in a position to form part of a governing coalition, although the leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin have both ruled out a deal with Mary Lou McDonald's party.

Although Sinn Fein's result has fallen short of its rating in opinion polls in previous general elections, the latest result by RED C shows it has a higher percentage of committed voters than Fine Gael.

Around 17% of voters said they would definitely vote for the party, while the same percentage said they would definitely vote for Fianna Fail.

Just 14% said they would definitely vote for Fine Gael of an overall support level of 23%.

On Sunday, Fine Gael said they would continue to rule out a coalition with Sinn Fein ahead of the election.

"The reason we have ruled out working with Sinn Fein is a point of principle," said Leo Varadkar.

"Key policy decisions made by Sinn Fein are taken not by elected representatives but an Ard Comhairle, and we just don't think that's proper in a democratic society, and we also have a big problem with their stance on the Special Criminal Court (which Sinn Fein have previously opposed but now say needs reform)."

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the two man parties "don't want a republican about the place", because it would challenge the status quo.

Her party has taken legal advice over their absence from the RTE leaders debate on February 4.

The party said its polling position means it has as much right as Fine Gael to be included in what will be the second televised debate between Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar.

Belfast Telegraph