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Opinion poll suggests Sinn Fein surge in Republic's General Election

Support for the Government dropped significantly in recent months, according to the first Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll of the campaign.

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Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Support for Sinn Fein in the Republic of Ireland has surged ahead of next month's General Election, according to a new poll.

The first Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll of the election campaign showed support for the republican party at 21%, up seven.

It leaves Sinn Fein narrowly behind Fine Gael on 23% and Fianna Fail on 25%.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald’s personal stock rose from 30% to 34%.

Leo Varadkar’s personal approval rating reduced from 51% in October to 35%.

Micheal Martin’s rating also fell from 38% to 33%, and Labour’s Brendan Howlin went from 20% to 17%.

Fianna Fail has taken a small lead over Fine Gael for the first time in three years, the opinion poll shows.

Support for the Government has dropped significantly in recent months.

The Green Party is also set to make gains in next month’s election, the poll suggests, while Independents and smaller parties are on track to lose several Dail seats.

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Fianna Fail has taken a small lead over Fine Gael for the first time in three years, an opinion poll showed (Aine McMahon/PA).

Fianna Fail has taken a small lead over Fine Gael for the first time in three years, an opinion poll showed (Aine McMahon/PA).

The 23% for Fine Gael represents its lowest level of support since before the last election. If repeated at the election it would see serious losses of seats.

Satisfaction with the Government plummeted from 42% in October to 27% on Monday.

The poll was conducted on Thursday, Friday and Saturday last week, shortly after the election campaign began.

The survey was taken face to face with 1,200 adults at 120 locations covering all constituencies. The accuracy level is estimated at plus or minus 2.8%.

Excluding undecided voters and those unlikely to vote, 25% of those who responded said they would vote for Fianna Fail (no change), 23% for Fine Gael (down six points), 21% for Sinn Fein (up seven), 5% for Labour (down one), 8% for the Green Party (no change) and 18% for Independents and small parties (no change).

The comparison is with the most recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll last October.

PA