The Irish Times view on the latest opinion poll: a boost for the Government

A sharp fall in support for Sinn Féin and an increase for Fine Gael are the main features of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll

Another sharp drop in support for Sinn Féin and a significant rise in support for Fine Gael are the standout findings of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll, which indicates that the Coalition has a realistic chance of holding on to power after the next general election.

The five-point decline in support for Sinn Féin since the last Irish Times poll in February means that support for the party has now fallen 11 points since last September. That fall has coincided with the rise of immigration as a major issue in public debate.

Fine Gael has seen a four-point increase in its support and it has now drawn level with Sinn Féin on 23 per cent. It is the first time in three years that Sinn Féin has not been out in the lead as the biggest party.

The rise in support for Fine Gael has coincided with the elevation of Simon Harris to the post of party leader and Taoiseach. While he trails Micheál Martin in the leadership approval ratings, and is behind his predecessor Leo Varadkar’s most recent showing, he is ahead of Mary Lou McDonald, who has slipped to third place.


Support for Fianna Fáil at 20 per cent shows no change since the last poll. When taken in conjunction with the fact that Martin remains by far the most popular party leader, it indicates that Fianna Fáil can entertain hopes of a reasonably good performance at the next general election.

The one weakness for the Coalition is a slip in support for the Green Party, which is down one point to 4 per cent. Overall, though, with the combined support for the three Government parties now running at 47 per cent, it looks in a stronger position than it has been for some time.

If the three Coalition parties transfer to each other at the next election, they could put themselves in a strong position to form another administration, although they may require the support of another small party or Independents.

There have been some minor changes in the support level of the other smaller parties, with Labour gaining one point at 5 per cent and the Social Democrats losing a point to 3 per cent. This should give Labour a boost at a critical time and indicates that the widespread chatter about its imminent demise may be premature.

By contrast the loss of support at this juncture will come as a setback for the Social Democrats, who were hoping to make a serious breakthrough in the local and European elections on June 7th by outpolling Labour. There has been no change in support for other small parties such as People Before Profit, who remain on 2 per cent, and Aontú, which remains on 1 per cent.

However, the poll does show that non-party Independents are continuing to poll strongly on 17 per cent and will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the next Dáil.